Mosoti Kepha was born in Nyamira District, Kisii, Kenya. He went to school in Kitale, Kenya and majored in Drawing and Painting and also Fine Art at the Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts in Nairobi, Kenya. Mosoti is a painter as well as sculptor. His sculptures are made of wood, metal and tin and are inspired by expressions of humans figures and facial personalities. His paintings are semiabstract inspired by mother nature.
View Mosoti Kepha’s portfolio. You can also view his artwork after the interview below.
ExtraImaginary: Mosoti, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in art?
Mosoti Kepha: Actually I’ve been interested in art since I was a young boy – thirteen years old in primary school … that was in 1993. That’s when I noticed that I’m good at figure drawing, nature drawing and landscapes. So my primary teacher noticed that I had that talent and she encouraged me to go on with it. So in 1996 when I joined high school, I was lucky to take art as a subject that is drawing and painting and fine art in general. I did it for four years until 1999 when I finished high school. My high school teacher also noticed that I am a briliant artist and I can do better If I took my talent more seriously. So when I finished high school, I joined Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts. That was in 2000 until 2003. After college, I decided to take art as my professional career and in 2005 that is when I joined the art scene officialy. Actually it is a good thing and I’m glad I chose that.
ExtraImaginary: What medium do you use for your art? You do both painting and sculpture right?
Mosoti Kepha: Yeah, I do painting and sculpture. I use both acrylic and oil colors on canvas and sometimes mixed media. In sculpture I use mixed media that is waste wood, tin, small metals and nails.
ExtraImaginary: Your sculptures are very interesting. Can you tell us the process involved in making one of your pieces?
Mosoti Kepha: Actually, I take waste wood that is used for export and import. They are available here in Kenya. So I take them and I draw a face on that wood. I give it a personality. When I finish drawing I sculpt that face. Then I take burned tin, I cut it into the shape of the nose, eyes, and mouth. I use the tacks, small nails to stick it on the wood. After that I smoke it or burn it a little bit. Then I use a wire brush to remove the top burnt waste from the wood. After that, I work on it and do a nice finishing on them. Then i wax them … I burn them to define the grains on the wood, so the grains are well defined depending on the type of wood I used that is why they have a very different interesting finishing.
What gives you inspiration and what has inspired you to do the pieces that you have done?
Mosoti Kepha: Actually, just the human characters. The facial expressions of humans and their personalities. The smiling – you know people smile differently and everybody has his or her own physical features and the facial features. So the facial features and their expressions, inspire me alot and I take that very seriously when I am doing my masks.
ExtraImaginary: In your paintings, do you focus on any particular form of painting such as portraits or landscapes, etc?
Mosoti Kepha: I do all. Portraits, realistic and semirealistic. When you look at my paintings, you’ll see imaginary landscapes, imaginary body figures and imaginary animals I mostly use impressions of real mother nature in my paintings.
ExtraImaginary: Do you have any favorite artist and who inspires you?
Mosoti Kepha: Actually, the artists that inspire me are the artists who are around me. And I can say like Dennis Muraguri is one of them, is my fellow artist. We have been together since college and also Cyrus Kabiru. Those are the major artists that inspire me a lot. About the masters of art like Michelangelo, they make me feel that I can also reach that point of being a master.
ExtraImaginary: When you have creative blocks, how do you overcome it or how do you get past that?
Mosoti Kepha: I get past that by starting another piece. If I am working on a piece and it gives me a hard time, I just put it aside and give it more time. So I’ll start another piece. Sometimes, starting this new piece will give me an idea of how to complete the other piece. So it really doesn’t stress me a lot.
ExtraImaginary: What is your main goal with respect to your art?
Mosoti Kepha: My goal is to be a master of my artwork. I can’t really explain. I just want it to take me to the level it will take me.
ExtraImaginary: Do you want people to know anything else about you?
Mosoti Kepha: Okay. What I want to say is that people should take me as a visual artist. I might be doing painting and sculpture now but in the future, I may still want to add something else in art … maybe I will try printmaking or even casting and more other departments. I believe in diversity. Not to stick to just one thing. So it is good to use your talent with freedom. You have been given that talent for free so use it wisely.
ExtraImaginary: What do you think about the state of art in Kenya and how do you think that art can be given more importance in Kenya?
Mosoti Kepha: Actually art in Kenya is not taken that seriously. There are very few people who know art and for example most people who know art are the foreigners and its very unfortunate that our own Kenyans, most of them don’t know anything about the art we do – , the contemporary art that we do. I think the government has to come in and the organizations that are there to help artists in Kenya, they should make sure that art is diversified to all Kenyans and they should be more galleries and more people who deal with art so that they can be better competition when it comes to promoting art. Cause we have very few organizations and institutions that deal with art. That is why art is picking up slowly. It is not that active. But we hope that if we artists came together and we promote ourselves through the Internet and create our own scenario for the art, we will be going in the right direction.
ExtraImaginary: Mosoti, thank you for your time. You are ExtraImaginary.