By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published January 31, 2013
An art exhibition and fashion show featuring 50 artists and marking 50 years of art in post-independent Uganda has ended in Kampala. Held December 7-8, 2012 on the theme “Uganda Art 50”, the exhibition was held at Kabira Country Club in Kampala. It was organised by the Uganda Visual Artists and Designers Association (UVADA) and hosted by Fireworks Advertising agency.
The theme spelt the decades through which the various genres of art have journeyed, taking up prime position in offices, homes, museums and even on the streets.
The exhibition focused primarily on the visual arts, which included the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, print-making, photography, and other visual media works like fired clay, wood and metal and poster on paper over Uganda’s 50 years of Independence.
“We collected 50 artists in line with the 50 years of Uganda’s Independence celebrations. Each artist was required to bring three pieces of art. We even exhibited art pieces from the archives of the Makerere University School of Fine Art,” UVADA chairman, Nathan Kiwere, said.
“Golden Boy”, a cement sculpture by Davis Komukaka depicts Stephen Kiprotich, the Ugandan who won a gold medal in marathon at the 2012 London Olympics, making a victory lap while holding the Ugandan flag.
“Beauty”, an acrylics painting by Bruno Ruganzu, appears to be a reaction to the dominant Western perception of a beautiful woman as one who is small and slender. That isn’t in line with the traditional African definition.
“We should be proud of how we were created whether fat, tall, short or slim. We should not care about the Western perception,” Ruganzu told ArtMatters.Info. “It is an insult to tell an African woman that she is fat.”
“Street Angels”, a mixed media painting by Saad Lukwago, portrays what he terms as “the positive side of street children that the public never gets to know or decides to ignore”.
When you look at street children, he says, you may think they do not have family; but they are always playing and have friends. They have as normal life just like their counterparts who live at home.
In another mixed media painting “Fashionista,” Lukwago complements the efforts to revive the pride of Africans in their indigenous fashion.
“The exhibition was a success because there was a good turn up by both artists and visitors,” Ronnie Chris Tindi, the curator of the exhibition, said.”This was the biggest exhibition ever held in Uganda because we had the 50 artists compared to the Signature Art Exhibition which featured 30 artists.”
Saying this was the first exhibition to have featured both contemporary artists and Art Masters, those practicing before Uganda’s independence in 1962, Tindi gave examples of contemporary artists whose works were exhibited as Lilian Nabulime, Frank Madibo, Anwar Sadat, Andrew Ssekibala, Enoch Mukiibi, Tony Allan Kasirye and Yusuf Ngula and art masters as Katongole Waswa and George Kyeyune.
Saad Lukwago, a painter and exhibitor said: “This was a very instrumental exhibition because it is about Uganda’s Golden Jubilee. The reason it is special is because it had several generations of Ugandan artists exhibiting from 1940s to-date. And that is a very wide span because you get to see different trends and phases in the industry.”
“Instead of dining and wining to celebrate Uganda’s independence or the fourth anniversary of Fireworks Advertising, we decided to support the artists through this exhibition,” Kyamutetera Muhereza, the Public Relations officer of Fireworks Advertising, said.
“Through the past three exhibitions and contacts got after the exhibitions artists have sold art works in the region of US$36,560. This is just a drop in the ocean, but it indicates the potential of the art industry in Uganda,” Muhereza said.
He said they had in 2012 agreed with the artists to donate at least 10% of their sales proceeds to charity.
“The artists have suggested a slum art project to support the less fortunate in society through identifying art talent and behavioural change,” Muhereza said.
The exhibition closed with a fashion show featuring African wear by Stella Wandera, Harriet Designs, Carolyn Kiwere and Zion Fashions on December 8, 2012.
Fireworks Advertising said they had started the annual art exhibition in 2009 to recognise the efforts and achievements of local artists and assist in helping market their work to buyers besides promoting a culture of collecting art among Ugandan corporate sector.