Title: Mr Cool
Paper size: 49.5 x 38 cm
Image size: 36.5 x 28 cm
Edition size: 20
Espoir Kennedy was invited to come and work at The Artists' Press at the end of 2003 after we had seen one of his salon banners on the side of the road in Carolina, Mpumalanga. Kennedy's graphic sense and connection with his subject matter excited us as soon as we saw his work.
Espoir Vyizigiro Kennedy was born in 1976 in Bujumbura, Burundi. He studied at Complexe Scolaire Congoleuse (Burundi) graduating in 2001 with a diploma in biology and chemistry. In 1996, he began to paint hair salon posters and shop signs for local business people, as well as landscapes for the tourist market in Burundi. When war broke out his family fled the Burundi genocide and now live in the Congo.
In 2002, the artist came to South Africa and settled in Durban, where he paints haircut banners and signs for South African salons as well as doing digitally designed and printed shop signage.
Kennedy customizes each of his banners according to who his clients want to feature on their salons. His "commands" come from all over South Africa and his work can be seen on pavements from Johannesburg and Carolina to Mthatha and Estcourt. He has also been commissioned to do family portrait banners. Espoir Kennedy paints "because it is inside me, it is my life, a God-given talent"
Popular culture and iconography inspire him. Media personalities, movie stars, soccer players, musicians and politicians, as well as the simply stylish are his preferred subjects.