Lot 18 Rosemary Karuga (Kenyan, born 1928) Untitled, undated, at the Art Auction East Africa 2019

Rosemary Karuga (Kenyan, born 1928)
Untitled, undated
Paper collage
45.9 x 27.7 cm

Ksh 200,000–280,000
(US$ 1,800–2,550)
Sold Ksh 352,200

Provenance: private collection

Rosemary Karuga’s lifetime of remarkable achievements place her as a major 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 at Makerere University 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 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 as one of Gallery Watatu’s highly esteemed artists.