Rosemary Karuga (Kenyan, born 1928)
Untitled I, II, III (Kenyan Birds triptych), 2000
Signed ’17/7/2000 Rosemary N Karuga’ (upper right)
Signed ’8/7/2000 Rosemary N Karuga’ (lower right)
Signed ’7/7/2000 Rosemary N Karuga’ (lower right)
Paper collage
41.2 x 30 cm (each)
Ksh 500,000 – 680,000 ARR
(US$) 4,500 – 6,000
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 Margaret Trowell School of Fine and Applied Arts at Makerere University in Kampala, where she trained in clay work, and wood and stone carving. Upon her graduation and return to Kenya she worked for many years as a full-time teacher and it was only after her retirement, at nearly 60 years old, that she came back to her art practice.

Using easily accessible materials such as newspapers and magazines, Karuga developed an approach to collage which was unique at the time in East Africa, creating images of 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 most highly esteemed artists.