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Born in 1950 on a farm in the southern highlands of Tanzania, Michael Ghaui has an intimate knowledge of the wildlife and landscape of Africa. As a boy, he took frequent camping trips to game parks with his family, traveling by day, observing the wildlife, and sleeping out under the stars at night. This tradition continues as an adult, camping with his family for several months a year in the wilds of Tanzania. These trips provide him with both inspiration and the numerous field notes he amasses as reference material for his paintings and sculptures. With a degree from Wye College in Kent, England, Ghaui has since been a full-time artist for over twenty five years. When not in the wilds of Tanzania, he and his family live on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya.
Ghaui’s work with oils combines both impressionistic and realistic approaches. The abstract foregrounds in his paintings are perhaps one of the most recognizable features of his work. However, he still keeps both flora and fauna accurate. Each of Ghaui’s paintings also contains his trademark; the dry leonotis plant. His lively treatment of light interacts with his use of dust to portray heat and movement. Ghaui’s works bring to viewers an authentic experience of wildlife in the African bush.
Inspiration for me is the smell of wood smoke from a campfire, or the sound of a lion at night; the sight of a bull kudu gliding through a sea of grey bush, or a pair of fish eagles calling in duet. I can close my eyes and smell the animals, see the dust, and feel the heat off the land. When I can create those same feelings in people who view my art, then I will know I’ve truly arrived.
– Michael Ghaui
Ghaui has also been sculpting wildlife since 1995. His sculptures are cast in bronze and sterling silver at the Pangolin Foundry in Gloucestershire, England. Ghaui has had exhibitions in Nairobi, Kenya and the United States, and his works hang in numerous private collections throughout the world. Ghaui has also participated in the Woodson Art Museum’s Wildlife in Art exhibit in Wausau, Wisconsin.