VISUAL ARTIST Bruce Mbanzabugabo has used his art to portray different messages of hope to the world and seeks to leverage this internationally.
One of his recent works “My Choice, Flames of Hope” depicts a message based on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In the portrait, the bodies of Genocide victims can be seen, a child who symbolizes all ages and genders, wearing bloody clothes, has part of his right hand amputated and scars on his head and runs with a flame of fire in the darkness of the forest.
This, according to Mbanzamugabo, reflects that no matter the impact and suffering caused by the genocide, Rwandans have hope to live and forgive what he describes as a burning flame.
My Choice, Flames of Hope – one of Bruce Mbanzabugabo’s works. Courtesy photos.
“As we mark the 28th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda (Kwibuka 28), we know that there are artists who played a role in the genocide. As an artist, I have taken my time and I designed this portrait as a contribution to my country. My aim is to donate it to the Kigali Genocide Memorial,” he said.
“My message is for everyone because we have a lot to learn from our history and from the child survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who were between 9 and 15 years old, especially in their youth.”
Mbanzamugabo who holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science is also a professional, creative photographer and a multi-talented graphic designer who has worked with different national and international companies and institutions in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire.
Growing up, his father was also a professional photographer and he enjoyed all kinds of arts.
“He liked to tell me things about photography and art; that’s how I started to like art,” Mbanzabugabo said.
When he was in elementary school (5th grade), his father gave him a camera marked “kyiv” with a film on it and said, “It’s yours. Now don’t ask me for money. ” and supported his art with some necessary tools for a beginner, equipping him as best he could.
“I remember I used to draw pencil portraits at home, pictures on banners for my neighborhood scouts, and even biology and geography drawings for teachers on the blackboard,” did he declare.
Later, he stopped doing art and photography to focus on his studies and subsequently found himself involved in photography and graphic design again.
Since pursuing his studies in computer science, he has used the skills of his art playing with Photoshop to develop new skills in furthering his ambitions.
He is aware that the era of digitization to which he belongs has expanded the vision and appreciation of art into a wider spectrum and visibility across the world.
He said he likes art because it is a channel he uses to spread his thoughts and messages, adding that it communicates with a large number of people and is an easy medium for expression.
Addressing its uniqueness, he said: “Every painting I do is a story; it has a name and the colors in it correspond to the message I want to convey. I mix different cultures, thoughts, stories and emotions of my surroundings. I use various skills such as drawing, photography and painting to deliver my work, which makes it distinct and exceptional.”
His other works include Impano, Mbwira, Chic, Bough, Called to Night, Afr’Ubuhle, La Féerie, Umugongo, Exodus, Sodja, Harmony, Ebun, among others.
He said that art allowed him to gain an audience and to express his thoughts and emotions, to attract attention and appreciation.
His challenge is that people who appreciate art are still few, adding that “there are challenges in monetizing art to bring value to artists because the market is limited. The cost of making art ranging from materials to promotion is rarely appreciated.”
However, he is looking forward to doing more portraits and participating in various exhibitions where he can show his works to the world.
He can be found at +250 788 716 726, Instagram: mbanzabruce_art &brucembanzabugabophotography
Twitter: @brucem763 (Bruce Mbanzabugabo) and Linkedin: Bruce Mbanzabugabo