ONG'ESA, ELKANA

ENYAMUCHERA (BIRD OF PEACE in Kisii)
Kenyan marble sculpture, signed and dated on the back
142 x 136 x 100 cm
Miollis Entrance
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Kenya
Donation made to UNESCO by Kenya
© Photo:UNESCO/M. Claude
©1978 ELKANA ONG'ESA

Elkana Ong'Esa spent two years, from 1976 to 1978, working on "Enyamuchera", which has been part of UNESCO’s collection since 1980. Through the abstract representation of a bird, more specifically a magpie shrike, Ong’Esa looks to symbolize peace in the world. This sculpture is made of soapstone, or steatite. This stone is close to both talc, which is however less dense, as well as serpentine or green marble. It bears its name because of the feeling one gets when touching the stone, and because it is easy to cut using a metal object. The smoothness of the stone enhances the fluidity of the lines cut by Ong'Esa and gives greater purity to the shape.

Artist Biography

Elkana Ong'Esa was born in 1944, into a family of craftsmen. He is heavily influenced by this heritage, which particularly gave him knowledge in the field of basketry, thanks to his mother, and the art of stone and metal work on his father’s side, who was highly respected for his work. He developed this heritage and know-how throughout his life,becoming one of Kenya’s most recognized artists.

Ong'Esa took classes in visual arts, sculpture, painting, and ceramics at the University of Mankerke. These various subjects were provided by both English and African teachers, a double education which would have a great influence on his work - although the education he received would never have as much impact on his artistic creations as would the heritage received from his family.

In parallel to his artistic career, Ong'Esa taught art at different schools, although he is now retired. Ong'Esa is an artist committed to improving and developing African society. He created "Design Power Consultants" of which he still remains the director, and whose mission it is to help the population on health, education and unemployment issues, through arts and crafts as well as visual arts.

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