"I Chose to Be Black" - Interview with Munyaneza Henry - Afrikanizm

"I Chose to Be Black" - Interview with Munyaneza Henry

I Chose to be BLACK" is Afrikanizm's latest exclusive collection by the talented Rwandan artist, Munyaneza Henry, inspired by the global movement - Black Lives Matter. This collection was born out of the need to recognise and celebrate African identity that has been "buried" under the weight of colonialism and centuries of oppression.

Afrikanizm wanted to find out more about the collection as well as get to know the artist behind it better. We invite you to read this exclusive interview with Munyaneza Henry.


Who is Munyaneza Henry?

I was born on the 5th of May 2003 in Rwanda and I am the only boy of 4 children. When I was younger I was very introverted but at the same time very curious. I am a Christian and I see art in everything, as I believe art is life.


How do you define yourself as an artist?

Since I was a child the most amazing thing I did, in terms of art, was to build houses on the ground, so since then art has become my life. I have dedicated myself to being the artist who paints as a way to communicate with people who are far away by painting portraits with a vibrant palette of colours. I believe that art is a representation of our everyday life, it is a form of expression and communication that everyone can have access to. I am an artist who is inspired by stories, who tells events, who addresses various topics, such as mental health and who aims to inspire and motivate people.


Why this selection for Afrikanizm?

Considering one of Afrikanizm's values, to promote African culture, there is nothing better than this collection that addresses the need to recognise and celebrate African identity that has been 'buried' under the weight of colonialism and centuries of oppression.


Tell me about the inspiration behind these pieces.

The inspiration for this collection came after preparing for an exhibition in my studio, from which no one showed up, not even my friends. I lost faith, trust and the investment I had made. I wanted to leave art. That same day I spoke to my mother and she was able to comfort me with her words. During my journey, which was not easy at all, as I was fired, kicked out of the house by my uncle, refused to work with some galleries and refused to be paid, I told myself that this was nothing and that I should move on. I used all these experiences and the feelings involved in this collection to help those, who like me, had lost hope.


How long did it take you to create the pieces for this collection?

It took me a month and a half.


Can you touch on any specific techniques or mediums you used in creating these works?

I used a vibrant palette of colours, shapes, human figures and dynamic brushstrokes in order to portray what I wanted and create impact for the audience. Medium: Acrylic on canvas.


How does this collection relate to your previous work or other pieces you have created?

I always try to create collections with new themes, so this collection does not relate to any of the previous ones.


How do you hope viewers will respond to your collection?

I hope they will understand and reflect on the message the collection conveys, that they will love it and buy it. I would like my pieces to have a home so that they can continue to inspire and communicate to various people.


How does this collection reflect the current social and cultural context?

This collection challenges Africans to break free from the prison of a limited mindset of not being able to believe in themselves. I would like them to recognise their own value and rights, just like our ancestors did.


Are there any specific themes or messages you hope to convey through your art?

Let's start supporting each other and stop asking why he or she is the way they are. We must believe that we are all different and in turn have different purposes. By creating unity, between everyone, we will be stronger and reach further.


Are there any pieces in this collection that are particularly meaningful to you?

All the pieces are inspired from my life story, during my journey of becoming an artist. The painting "The Light of Hope" portrays the hope and strength I had to carry on after the loss I had in early 2023.


Are you planning to create more works related to this collection?

Not at the moment.


What can we expect from Future Munyaneza?

To continue to educate and motivate people through my art and to never stop creating artworks that surprise.


If you haven't seen Munyaneza Henry's " I Chose to Be Black" collection yet, don't wait any longer and explore it on our website, follow the link - https://www.afrikanizm.com/en/i-chose-to-be-black

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