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 Charles Sekano  (1943 - )

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Lived/Active: South Africa      Known for: paintings

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
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Biography from The Auction Room:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in 1945, Charles Sekano holds a unique place in the story of South African exile art and, following a thirty year stay in Nairobi, a major position in the history of Kenyan art.  Whilst a young man Sekano's life changed forever when his beloved birthplace, Sophiatown, was raised to the ground by the apartheid regime in South Africa and his family forcibly resettled in Soweto.  The impact of this upheaval led to the shattering of the artist's network of family friends and ultimately to the tragic loss of his father and his family life.  For Sekano, Sophiatown is the magical mythical city of his youth and remains the inspiration for much of his later artistic work.  

After joining the Pan African Congress as a military recruit in the 1960s, Sekano found himself in Ghana, Algeria,Tanzania and later as a refugee in Kenya.  Facing the loneliness of exile in Nairobi, Sekano dug deep to invent himself as a poet, painter and pianist (to which he refers to as the three "Ps").  In all of these artistic genres, he is entirely self-taught.

With his flamboyant clothes and haunting jazz piano, Sekano became an influential figure in Nairobi during the seventies and eighties, inspiring a generation of young Kenyan painters and musicians in a country weighed down by political and artistic repression.  Much of Sekano's artistic inspiration comes from the twilight world of the nightclubs and bars where he worked as a musician.  But equally his work is steeped in the memories of a lost family life following the breaking up of his birth family at the hands of the apartheid regime.

His art can be seen as a long series of portraits of, more often than not, beautiful women sensitively and acutely observed.  It serves as a tribute to the female form and a testament to the diversity of people in Kenya in particular.  This is partly due to the complex mix of ethnicities within the country and partly because of the constant flow of refugees from other African countries - exposing the intellectual futility of generalizing African identity.

Charles Sekano has exhibited widely in Kenya and in Holland, Germany, Japan, U.K. and the U.S.A., and at the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2008.  He had his second solo show in London in 2014, Charles Sekano: The Geometry of Fate at Maestro Arts, London.  His works are in private collections across the world and in various museums including Volkekunde Museum, Frankfurt, and the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts.

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