High material costs drive artists to be more innovative


The works of Rwanda’s Innocent Buregeya challenge the traditional local art scene after the Covid-19 pandemic forced artists in the region to become more creative and innovative.

His mixed collection, occupying a section of the wall at Iteme Art Space in Kigali, is a testament to how upcycled materials can creatively create beauty.

But this is not Buregeya’s first attempt in this form. Unlike most contemporaries who work with acrylic on canvas, he announced his entry into the visual arts scene in 2012 by experimenting with recycled materials like wire mesh, old toothbrushes, rubber products and other scraps, which he assembled on wood and canvas, to emerge with unique mixed-media works of art.

Conservation theme

Since most art production tools are imported and therefore expensive, scrap recycling is seen as an ideal medium for innovative craftsmanship.

The artist uses waste that he recycles beautifully.


Created as part of the previously held joint exhibition titled bee together, which featured other established Rwandan artists, the style of the collection is an attraction.

Buregeya’s works reflect the general theme of conservation through recycled material.

On small canvases, in acrylics, he paints semi-abstract images of African women. These are further embossed to give more vivid images by using old wire mesh, wires, toothbrushes, tin cans, bottle caps, paper and glue on modeled works.

The strength of the African woman

The artist breathes more life into these models by applying paints and emerges with representative images of African women.

His framing of the works gives them a definitive finish.

This collection is centered on the African woman, who stands out with pride when she is well adorned. The artist firmly believes in the African woman as a solid symbol of great transformation towards positive change.

In 2016, his exhibition Conscious mind was created with only watercolors on canvas. The same was reflected in his 2017 exhibition A night on the moonwhich was a revolutionary departure in style.

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