Ed Cross Fine Art is delighted to present Cyrus Kabiru's first USA exhibition showing works from his C-Stunner body of work, with photography by Amunga Eshuchi.
C-STUNNERS are a series of wearable eyewear sculptures which sit on the boundary between art, performance, fashion and design. Innovative pieces of art, each telling their own story and made from working with found objects - 'givin trash a second chance' - from the artist's urban environment, inspired by childhood memories of growing up in an area bordering Nairobi's biggest rubbish dump.
Kabiru is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist, 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 isperceived by the outside world and vice versa. There are innumerable artists in Africa who work with recycled materials, metals, plastic, paper etc - among them some very distinguished sculptors such as Roumuald Hazoume of Benin, Bertiers Kenya and Olu Amoda of Nigeria but it is refreshing to find a young artist coolly displaying what borders on obsessive fascination with a singular subject that we see in Cyrus Kabiru's surreal and phantasmagorical creations.
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.
The work sits between fashion, wearable art, performance, and commodity. C-STUNNERS have a certain energy and playfulness that really captures the sensibilities and attitudes of a new generation in Nairobi. They portray the aspiration of popular culture as well as reflect the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people. The lenses provide a new filter giving a fresh perspective onto the world that we live in, transforming the wearer not only in appearance but in mind frame as well.
"I call them the C-STUNNERS©. The original idea was inspired by memories of my father's childhood where he dropped his glasses by accident and a lorry which by chance happened to be fatefully passing by ran over them, shattering them completely. It goes without saying that he received a very thorough beating from my grandfather. From that day on my father hated glasses. I admired sun-glasses though, but wearing them was an impossibility because of my father's attitude towards them and I thus decided that when I grew up I would pick up from where the lorry left off. Many of my friends despised me as I continued nurturing that dream, along with the additional name calling while being told that it was all nonsense. The argument was that it was a strange way of art. What they never knew was that this was my dream and I had made it my hobby as well. Now all grown up this dream has come to pass and now I have my own eyewear line which I call THE C-STUNNERS. I have realized the dream and as my grandfather once said "When you truly dream a dream of your lifetime, never go back to sleep" and I, well, I am neither relenting nor dozing back to sleep. C-Stunners have rocked the regional media and more so the tastes and imagination of art lovers with local television stations having interviews and discussions about them. The press have had columns and pages dedicated to them. My dream is to make them the classic choice of even aliens, who are beyond the international levels. I have been arrested once for almost 8 hours because of wearing them. For now, the sky is the limit."