07-12-2019 by Leni Frau
Malindi has become the second home of one of the most promising and highly regarded artists in East Africa.
Peter Elungat, a painter in his late forties whose works are also exhibited at the Gallery of African Art in London and in other spaces in Europe and the United States, has been involved by the Yoga & Wellness Centre of Malindi Shala Heart of the Italian Luce Torreforte in his social project Tribalosophy.
"It was my first time in Malindi, and as soon as I touched the ground I felt an unforgettable feeling, that of feeling at home. Then I arrived in the beautiful garden-house of Luce, in this place so quiet and evocative, I felt in paradise".
Elungat comes from far away, in every sense: he was born in 1978 in Malamba, on the border with Uganda has always been attracted by art.
He dropped out of school in the second year of secondary school despite the good results, with the excuse of going to help the family that is experiencing a time of economic crisis. The real reason is that there is no artistic discipline among the school subjects and the need for freedom, to live and be inspired by the outside world are too strong to keep it in a school building ... in addition to excessive nostalgia for the mother figure: "I have been too long with my mother (even if the time spent with his mother is never too much) this special relationship has conditioned me in the choice of subjects almost always female in my works.
In order to be able to support himself, a photographer friend suggests him to make portraits "copied" from his photographs and so began his career as a painter. In the beginning his paintings are rich in elements, people, plants, but the search for his own artistic identity has led him to simplify his works leaving now the human subject as the absolute protagonist of the picture.
A career on the launch pad, professional satisfaction and his name on the notebook of critics and patrons of art, but the experience with children in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Kisumundogo and draw for them and with them on the walls of the slum was for Elungat a point of arrival.
"I had already worked with children but a long time ago - says the artist at malindikenya.net - but this time it was not a drawing lesson; we worked together, sharing the moment and the intensity of the moment itself. It wasn't the fact of decorating a wall, that's my job and I wouldn't even know how to quantify its value, because in the end I've already received so much from this experience: I could see love, happiness and children's joy. They opened another door in the path of my life.
The Tribalosophy project, which was born in the slum of Kisumundogo, must be an example in all of Kenya and also in the world. Apart from the natural initial indifference, during the five days of work many local people approached us and some owners of houses and dwellings adjacent to the project have already offered their walls to be decorated, as well as many other children".
When he talks about the kids, the artist has clear eyes and shows us pictures and videos of his happy days, tells anecdotes, laughs and still is surprised how those little students have touched his ropes.
I keep dreaming about them," he says, "just as I'm sure I'll dream of Malindi, until my return, which will fortunately take place in a few weeks.
Peter Elungat will be one of the many special characters who will take part in the Shala Heart Gala evening on December 29th, an event that will combine art and wellness with social and cultural initiatives.
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