Cyrus Kabiru is a self-taught Kenyan artist who works in various mediums including painting and sculpture. He is best known for his Afrofuturism series, C-Stunners, an ongoing project consisting of elaborate eyeglasses that are imaginatively constructed out of found objects and recycled trash. These wearable sculptures, part fashion statement part social-political commentary, capture the sensibility and attitude of the youth generation in Nairobi. They portray the aspiration of popular culture bling and reflect the ingenuity and resourcefulness of people. The lenses are a metaphorical filter providing a fresh perspective of the world.
Kenyan Artist Cyrus Kabiru Brings His ‘C-Stunners’ to Cape Town.
Hosted at the SMAC Art Gallery branch in Woodstock, self-taught artist and TEDx fellow Cyrus Kabiru’s “C-Stunners & Black Mamba” exhibition opened on Thursday 29th January, and will be on display 'til 14th March, 2015.
Skillfully merging concepts of Afrofutirism, performance art, repurpose fashion resource ethics, and structural storytelling, each of these C-Stunners are carefully crafted from items retrieved from trash sites and recycled by Kabiru.
Digging through electronic refuse and found metal in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, Cyrus Kabiru refashions
found materials into different wearable forms. Often these take the
form of flamboyantly composed glasses, large eyewear that can often mask
the entire face.
Cyrus Kabiru is one of the most exciting of the younger artists to have emerged from Nairobi over the last few years. Kabiru has just completed his first international exhibition at Kuntspodium T Gallery in Tilburg, Holland which included an installation of his signature ‘C Stunner glasses’ made from recycled materials, each with its own story and together creating a powerful metaphor around the way Africa is perceived by the outside world and vice versa.
Kabiru has been creating his 'spectacles’ since childhood when he started to produce toys for his age-mates as a way of bartering his way through school work. The origins of his attachment to glasses stem from his father’s neurosis about them (in turn caused by the fact that Cyrus’s grandfather punished his father severely when, as a boy, he lost a pair of glasses that the family had made great sacrifices to provide him with). It is a universal story of poverty and the struggle to overcome it. Cyrus’s father scarred by his father’s fury when his attempts to help his son with his eyesight came to nought. The father, still mired in poverty, instilling in his son, Cyrus, a bizarre reverence for the things that he himself lost through carelessness - the son responding to this creatively - by reproducing again and again, the object of his father’s pain and his grandfather’s hope. In so doing, creating a contemporary folk tale through finding fame and fortune through his 'glasses’ sufficient to lift him out of the poverty that his father and grandfather wished to overcome.
This is the psychological background to the C-Stunners series but the works are rich in social comment too. Each with its own story from glasses with bars that evoke the jails of Nairobi to those with spent bullets that tell their story of criminal or police brutality. Also a love for nature that fuels the artist’s desire to recycle as part of a process of protecting the environment.