Feb 9, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Ishimwe reflects on society and disability in debut show

Inzozi or Dreams in Kinyarwanda is the theme of Chadrack Ishimwe’s exhibition, which is not only a journey of his skill but also a magnificent testimony that disability is not a physical limitation of human endeavours.

Ishimwe became was born with a physical disability that confined him to a wheelchair. But the 24-year-old has turned his creativity into a passion.

“When I was in elementary school I told my mother I wanted to study art and she said I needed it to complete my formal schooling first,” Ishimwe said when I visited him at the Indiba Art Space gallery, where he showed me around and adjusted the paintings on the walls to his satisfaction before the start of the exhibition.

The gallery in Kimihurura hosts the exhibition in its three rooms.

With over 30 artworks on display – mostly acrylic on canvas – Inzozi is primarily a reflection on society and community.

The group of works consists from figurative semi-abstracts of collaborative social activities.

One of the pieces, titled “Resourceful,” shows two children concentrating on something in the distance. One of the kids aims his catapult, the other waits relaxed. It’s a scene of hope backed by action.

Another, titled Chaos, features three children making funny faces, a typical character of happy children.

Depicting Disabilities

Ishimwe is not afraid to depict disabilities in his art.

One such piece entitled “Guide” shows two adults and a child wearing dark glasses and one white walking stick. It is obvious that they support the child in his journey. This painting serves to reflect society’s role towards people with disabilities.

Courage shows four boys on a soccer field. One of them, armless, leads the game towards goal with the ball in his possession.

Ishimwe’s debut exhibition lives up to his vision of using art as a tool for social advocacy.

Inspired by Jean d’amour Manishimwe, Ishimwe studied at Manishimwe’s art workshop in Gikondo in 2019.

The pandemic lockdown has not stopped his work.

“I would go and spend the day doing that to learn everything I could, which helped me since he (Manishimwe) was fully available at the time,” he adds.

Last year Ishimwe worked on a painting project with the support of Kigali Goethe Institute. This prompted him to further consider expanding the concept into an exhibition.

Ishimwe now plans to bring this exhibition to other art spaces outside of Rwanda.