Rosemary Karuga (Kenyan, born 1928)
Untitled (Woman and Child), 1998
Signed ‘2/2/98 Rosemary N Karuga’ (lower right)
56 x 40 cm
Sold Ksh 281,760
Provenance: private collection
Rosemary Karuga’s lifetime of remarkable achievements place her as a significant figure in Kenya’s modern art history. In 1950 she became one of the first female students to attend the Margret Trowell School of Fine and Applied Arts in Kampala, where she trained in clay work, wood carving and stone carving. On her graduation and return to Kenya she worked for many years as a full-time teacher and it was only on her retirement, at nearly 60 years old, that she came back to her art practice.
Using easily accessible materials of newspapers and magazines, Karuga developed an approach to collage which was unique at the time in East Africa, creating images which harness both extraordinary detail and charming simplicity.
Karuga’s international reputation grew when she exhibited in a group show alongside El Anatsui and Ablade Glover at the Studio Museum in New York in 1990. She was later asked to illustrate a book by the Yoruba writer Amos Tutuola; the resulting exhibition took the artist and her collage works to Paris. As well as continuing to feature in international exhibitions, Karuga’s recognition grew at home and she became a highly esteemed artist represented by Gallery Watatu.
This work was acquired by the current owners directly from the artist in 1998.