|Zenani Orengo with one of her favourite paintings. [PHOTO: MBUGUA KIBERA/STANDARD]|
The 18-year-old student at Nairobi’s Brookhouse School is producer of some of the most attention grabbing paintings at art exhibitions around Nairobi. While her father, Lands minister James Orengo, is more at home articulating issues on the political podium, Zenani is in her best element when working on a painting.
“Art gives me space to truly express myself, with no boundaries. Through my art, people see what and how I am thinking. It gives me an opportunity to get away from school work too!” says Zenani, whose painted portraits of old people has drawn art lovers in hordes.
“I love to paint faces of old people. Old people are very interesting for me. I like to paint old people’s faces to reveal something about the essence of the person. To me, an old person’s face is like a map. I am amazed by the creases, curves and the eyes. I do portraits because faces tell us so much about the person,” adds Zenani, who started painting at a very tender age.
“I focus on oil painting on canvas and use colours to bring out feelings on the portraits that I paint. I am captivated by old people’s facial expressions and since I like playing around with colours, I can do a countless number of portraits.”
Nods of approval
Her thoughtful portrait paintings have been praised by art connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.
“I like depicting nature and its wild animals but I have concentrated on the gorillas. They are interesting creatures, but that isn’t a surprise since they have some things in common with humans!” she says. “I want to be an even better painter. I am inspired by different cultures that I have interacted with. I have so many stories to tell from these cultures, through the paintbrush.”
Zenani’s paintings have been exhibited for the last three years, including at Nakumatt Junction.
In father’s steps
“Art is good for society. When words fail us and actions fail us, art will show us what we want to convey,” she says.