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Michael Manga Kuna, A Self-Taught Artist

By Yunus S Saliu


Artworks remain one of the simple ways of expressing the innermost thoughts of people and describing action and view but not everyone can learn the skill or possess the talent to make good artwork unless undergoing training like other artists, but Michael Manga Kuna, a self-taught artist is one among the talented ones in The Gambia.

Kuna, popularly called was among the exhibitors of artworks at the recently concluded art exhibition called The Great Gambia Art Exhibition that took place at Kanifing in Kanifing Municipal Council. He is an abstract painter and in the past has attended different exhibitions in The Gambia and beyond.

Talking about the experience, “I have been in this profession for almost 27 years now and I am a self-taught artist because I was born with it but very lucky to find myself amid big-time artists in the likes of late Etu Ndow, Malick Ceesay, Njogu Touray, too, I was also inspired by them,” Kuna affirmed.

The talented artist disclosed that he has never had a formal education in arts but has participated in different art exhibitions saying in the past “We used to have a regular exhibition called Art From The Gambia that’s where I started meeting these big artists and I later become the coordinator.

Apart from that and among other places, I have attended exhibitions in Guinea alongside Malick Ceesay, late Etu Ndow, and Modou Camara, at Alliance Francaise and in Bissau to name a few places.”

Contrary to what other people are saying, he said in The Gambia, local buyers of artworks in the past were incomparable to the present day “Though the industry is growing Gambians still not patronizing our works compared to the patronage in the neighboring countries.”

There are new trends in exhibitions and in the arts sector, saying lots of young artists are coming up, and “it is a clear indication that the future of arts is bright, it is just a matter of pushing and bracing up the gaps.”

Among his captivating works exhibited at The Great Gambia Art Exhibition include ‘The Gathering, which depicts how the leaders of today want to be idolized while another one is called The Family – reflecting on people on a journey or pilgrimage.

Artworks are profitable “If there is a regular sale and one of our major challenges is materials that we are using, they are expensive,” he stated.

Michael Manga Kuna not just goes to the exhibition alone but has an art studio in Latrikunda and also opened an art gallery with a colleague, Malick Ceesay, through which they also supply paintings to support some of the exhibition centers and create links with other artists.

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Yunus S Saliu

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