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Showing posts from October, 2019

Afriboy's Hermetical Gay Art

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Orokie/Afriboy/or A-Free-Boy was born in April, 1979, on “ a small island of Lake Victoria”, Uganda. He was educated there, in Kenya, and finally in Spain. From an early age, he drew secretly, using pictorial storytelling to explore his understanding of male-male love and sexual desire. (The word “gay” isn’t a term used by Orokie in his art, as he draws from African rather than Western traditions). “I was grown drawing” he once wrote. And by this he meant more than “I grew up drawing”. Drawing was his education…it drew him out of himself, stretched him, and through drawing he learnt how to grow. At school in Kenya, where art was forbidden and water scarce, he painted using the water from drinks of tea. Drawing developed Orokie's awareness of self and allowed him to shape his osotwa identity, which he felt was indigenous to Africa, part of its “tones of nature”. Osotwa , in Kenyan Maasai terminology, carries two important meanings: it is both the umbilical chord/navel and

Afriboy, The Book of Repentance.

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Daler 3404, as it appears on the web, contains 44 illustrations by Orokie. The original notebook has 80 paintings/ink works – in other words, almost 50% is missing. After 5 pages of familiar work that shows African faces and evokes African tradition, the web version jumps to an illustration of two, stylised faces and a single line of words: “The world was all before them.” The quotation from the concluding lines of Milton’s Paradise Lost hints at what has been omitted: 6 pages that sketch the psychodrama behind the notebook. These notes describe the structure of Dante’s Divina Commedia and Milton’s Paradise Lost . In effect, Orokie is presenting his work as an epic, a dialogue that considers his own fall and descent into mental and visual darkness, and his return to life (having ventured into the Underworld). In the missing pages, Orokie illustrates three out of the four lines that close Paradise Lost , Book XII. He does not consider the line that refers to Providence an

Afriboy's Crucial Notebook. Part One.

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Artist’s notebooks are revealing objects: they are vital documents for understanding process and the productive mind of the artist. Of the five notebooks in the public domain, Daler 3404, so named after the book’s art supplier and stock number, is the most significant. (The book appears to have been shipped to Orokie from Heffer's Bookshop in Cambridge, England). It contains large A4 drawings and relates closely to a turning point in Orokie Okoth’s life.  At the close of 2005 and the beginning of 2006, Orokie’s artistic star was rising. His work had been published for the first time and he had been asked to prepare an exhibition for the 2006 International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference request presented two immediate problems: the cost of sending work from his European home to Geneva; a very short deadline. Finally, Orokie submitted a digital exhibition focusing on male, same-sex love in Africa and the need to advance AIDS awarene