Kamal Shah is an accomplished Kenyan artist having exhibited his works in galleries and museums the world over. More significantly, Kamal Shah is an influential stakeholder to the growth of Kenyan art with an indelible record of supporting up and coming artists.
Kamal Shah grew up and was educated in Nairobi at a prescribed school and environment both being multi-racial and multi-religious. This forethought has shaped the disposition he holds in his artistic and social life to-date.
Kamal’s passage to art started with influence from family members when Kamal was barely a teenager and was bolstered with growing interest in art at Nairobi Hospital Hill Secondary School. He would further attend art classes with Keith Harrington – a teacher and influencer of many renowned Kenyan artists. Despite Kamal proceeding to get a degree in English Literature at Leeds University in UK, his spiritual entreaty with visual art endured and throve.
Kamal is a profound composer of structured lines and forms dressed in well thought out earthen colours and tones. This has been a well-cultivated style growth spanning thirty years plus in addition to earlier formal and informal influences.
One can stitch up this style growth starting from his first art classes with Keith Harrington whose pastel-like colour rendering and complementariness was fastidious. Kamal’s engagement at Rowland Ward Gallery – a production and outlet of well-appointed artefacts most of which were etched, embossed or decorated through outstanding craftsmanship processes. These can be revealed in the outlined forms of most of Kamal’s paintings. One of the crowning incubators of Kamal’s style is his own creation – Kichaka, a multimedia workshop specialising in designing and printing of African textiles. Here were born the intricate patterns, rhythmic arrangements and forms that augment his unique creativity. Since 1990 Kamal’s spiritual entreaty to art has seen him through many solo and group exhibitions of his paintings and prints in Africa, Asia and Europe.
Besides, Kamal is a maverick creator and experimenter! His current shift to digital art is bound to give us a three-dimensional view of this two-dimension artist we know. Afterall he is a sharer of moral and material support to fellow artists in Kenya.