Mutune Waweru

Nairobi, Kenya

"Art was my best friend, I always dreamt of becoming a great artist," Mutune says.


Mutune started drawing when he was 12 in his primary school, using pencils to draw maps. Bored during lessons which were “all theory and no practice”, he sketched in his notebooks. The drawings became so popular among his classmates that they rushed to see them as soon a lesson was over. Sometimes he would skip the lessons altogether “to hide in the bushes and draw”.


“And so, when my classmates chose to become engineers, doctors, pilots and teachers, I chose art as my career.” At the age of 14 he joined a secondary school that offered Art and Design as a subject. “It was like a dream come true.” He signed up and frequently visited the Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts to talk to its students. “Finishing my secondary school I was eager to pursue my passion for art, but the outside world confused me. I applied to a few technical colleges to study electrical engineering. Luckily, my brother and cousin saw the potential in me and convinced me to pursue art."


Mutune joined the Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts in 2014 and went to exhibitions and artists’ studios. He undertook an internship at Dust Depo where he met leading Kenyan artists such as Patrick Mukabi (Panye), Erick Mureithi (Sticky) and Gwanzu.


Two years ago, Mutune finished at Buruburu and, together with other artists, opened the Nyakati Arts Studios in Dandora, Nairobi. The aim of the collective, he says, is “to change society. The rise of unemployment among youths leads them to engage in criminal activities but, through art, society can be transformed.” Waweru’s inspiration comes from his compelling desire to speak to people, to relay to them his experiences and vision. “My art gives me freedom to express my feelings without limit. I want my imagination and perspectives to help my audiences. The intent is to convey the truth. When I have ideas, I just create art and all is well.” 


Incorporating both realism and abstract forms, Mutune’s imagery is rooted in stylised human figures set in motion: “I visualize diverse human characters and life patterns.” His art medium is charcoal, pastels and strings on paper. The works featured here draw on the history of Fort Jesus, the helplessness and powerlessness of youth, and the need to face one’s problems. 


MASK Awards 2019

Artist statement

"I am interested in the daily happenings and nature around me. My goal is to visualise accurately the beauty of nature and complexity of human emotions. My medium is a fusion of charcoals, pastels, watercolour and acrylics."

Exhibition history

Sarit Center, 2016, Nairobi

National Museum of Kenya, 2018, 2021, 2022, Nairobi

Karen Blixen Museum, 2019, Nairobi

Karen country club, 2019

Michael Joseph Center 2019