#AfricaMonth: Street art for empowerment, Q&A with Wise Two
World-renowned graffiti artist Wise Two, known for his mystically and ritualistically inspired art, chats to us about being Kenyan with Indian roots, cultural influences and how street art can empower for Bizcommunity's #AfricaMonth.
How did you get into graffiti?
A rebellious edge quickly got me drawn into the world of graffiti and the freedom of expression that I have always loved that came with it. I just needed to be me at a very early age and carve my own path and graffiti gave me that solid platform to do just that.
What is it about this medium that you love?
I love the rawness, the spirit and meditation between each graffiti piece, its always going to be a powerful artform and that’s one of the many reasons that this particular medium will constantly stand the tests of time.
Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?
Ancient civilizations, writing systems, African masks and daily human interactions definitely inspire my work to depths that I can never imagine, I have just learnt to embrace the process and find a certain permanence in the impermanence.
What does it mean to you to be African, especially with Indian roots?
It means that I am constantly pushing the boundaries, both professional and personal. I fall along the cusps of the best of both worlds, so it’s a constant reminder that one day I may never fit in on any side, which is totally fine with me. Who wants to fit in anyway?
What still needs to happen when it comes to the support of African graffiti artists?
A lot of support from institutions if the art form needs to be mainstreamed but still remain true to its roots, which is not a such a hard thing to achieve. But artists need to push the boundaries and work smart, craft a dope style and master it.
Which street artists inspire you?
A few used to inspire me, still do, but I tend not to follow another artists’ work. I like my work to remain pure, to represent me without a strong subconcious influence lingering around every work or piece I produce, whether canvas or wall.
Nostalgic - Tunis, Tunisia
How has growing up in Kenya influenced your art?
It’s been a complete different experience, one that has taught me to push the boundaries and limits of being an artist. Kenya is a place rich in culture and way of life, there are hidden gems that one needs to discover, and being born and raised in Kenya I am still discovering these many hidden gems, which have definitely in one way or another influenced my work.
Can you tell us about your solo show in Paris?
It was my first ever gallery show, it took place between 7 November 2015 and 19 December 2015 in Paris, France at one of the most prestigious street art galleries in Europe called, Galerie Itinerrance. It was a packed show, really good vibes, and each canvas represented different moods and concepts that introduced the people of Paris to my world, mystical, yet ancient in its own ways. The response was amazing!
If you had to describe your art in 1 word what would it be?
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
The biggest highlight of my career to date was my recent trip to Colombia. An amazing human experience! I fell in love with the different facets of Colombia, and if I was to go back again, I would travel and paint and take my work all over beautiful Colombia.
Puerto Rico, Meta, Colombia 2016
How do you see street art making a difference to the world?
Small steps, adding beauty to neighbourhoods, creating a platform for dialogue, addressing issues, inspiring people, providing a sense of empowerment to people, especially the ones who struggle daily to make ends meet in order for an artist to be able to do that is a powerful thing. It moves the heart and soul to another level and provide a platform for happiness and zeal to manifest.
Malcolm X, Kigali, Rwanda
Your favourite emoji?
What are you currently working on and what’s next?
I am currently working on something different, nothing to do with painting canvases or murals but something totally different in regards to medium, but still based on street art and my style of work. It’s still in progress though.
Whats next? Not sure, lots of traveling and painting I guess. The rest will fall into place in its own time. The universe has its on mysterious ways in showing you different opportunities.www.artofwisetwo.com
About Ruth Cooper
Ruth is the production manager at Bizcommunity, as well as a editor of the Lifestyle section. moc.ytinummoczib@htur