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Michael Soi, the Kenyan artist in love with Italy

Interview with the famous illustrator and creative

13-06-2021 di redazione

His name is Michael Soi, he is 49 years old and for over twenty years has been considered one of Kenya's most innovative, brilliant and irreverent artists.
A painter, illustrator and creative pop-art artist with a strong satirical streak, Soi is particularly inspired by contemporary life in Nairobi. 
His colourful works, including cartoons and caricatures, rich in detail and distinctive signs, as well as original portraits, constitute a sort of photographic diary of his country's emerging society and one of the most lucid and biting visions of its social and political trends. 
Soi is also an investigator of the interracial and intereconomic relationships that in a multi-ethnic metropolis like Nairobi are intertwined with what he calls the "business of love", with traditions, globalisation and consumerism.
His series "China Loves Africa", for example, is a sarcastic, iconoclastic and courageous insight into the presence of the Asian giant in Kenya.
Lately, his fame has also reached across the Atlantic for his amusing portraits of Donald Trump. 
Malindikenya.net caught up with the artist in Nairobi, to talk about his relationship with Italy, a country that has attracted him since he was a young boy.
"I was a fan of Serie A, in particular of Totti and Zidane. With friends we grew up with the dream of the country of football. Then my studies led me to discover the greats of art, from Leonardo Da Vinci onwards, and my perception definitely changed".
Soi loves to travel, has participated in numerous workshops and conferences in recent years, as well as in his homeland and on the African continent, has exhibited in international shows and has a huge following of collectors and enthusiasts around the world.
My regular appointment with Italy is every two years, at the Venice Biennial," explains the Kenyan artist, "but by now you could say that the Biennial is almost an excuse, in fact I love Venice and Italy, even if for now I have only briefly visited Rome, as well as the lagoon city. However, I am already planning to visit Florence. I love Venice above all because you don't see cars around, a bit like here in Lamu. But Venice is rich in history, I like to relate and converse with its people, eat well and drink the very good local grappa".
Soi believes that Kenya and Italy should work together to promote the beauty of our country and the benefits that art and culture can have on the creativity and open-mindedness of his countrymen.
In the meantime, he looks ahead to the next challenges, with brush and pencil.
I want to create a work that highlights the problems of women in Africa," the artist reveals, "particularly those that stem from the way men see women here and the way they treat them. It is often an uncomfortable subject, many prefer not to talk about it. Yet this is still the case, women still play the role of pleasure givers, they are little more than a tool by which men can enjoy themselves. This is a subject that has interested me for a long time, I would like to make the male gender reflect on how they see women and how they still tend to relate to them'.

 

TAGS: Micahel SoiKenyan artistKenya pop art

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