By Ogova Ondego
Published October 31, 2015
The Creativity Gallery of Kenya‘s premier house of culture, Nairobi National Museum (NNM), is home to contemporary art from Uganda. For at least 20 days till November 15, 2015.
Perhaps this exhibition should have been titled ‘Ugandans tell stories of their lives through paintings’? But that would have been a mouth full. No wonder Lydia Gatundu-Galavu, the Curator of Contemporary Art at National Museums of Kenya (NMK) simply titled it Nine Ugandan Artists. So, straight to story-telling; shall we?
Godfrey Kalungi says he is a full time artist who ventured in the craft in his childhood in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Though he did not complete his studies at the famous Magaret Trowel School of Art at Makerere University, Kalungi says, “I am today associated with Ivuka Arts studios in Kigali, Rwanda.”
Ronnie Tindi, who was initially trained as a draftsman, has familiarised himself with the tenets of Abstraction, Symbolism, Cubism and Dadaism and uses colour evocatively.
“I have a particular affinity with the motif of the fish, which I view as an icon of transparency. In this exhibition I explore birds using textured media to enhance visual movement,” Tindi, who says he has exhibited extensively within Uganda and internationally, says. He is a founding member of an art group known as Njovu Studio.
Paulo Akiiki, who paints mainly in oils on canvas, says he derives his “energy and inspiration from the ever sparkling bright sun that is seen almost every day in my beautiful homeland, Uganda. This is manifested in my ever romantic landscapes with the sun as my signature.”
“I draw my inspiration from my surroundings and the environment,” Ismail Damba says.”The human social relations, nature, wildlife…everything finds its place on my canvas.”
Paul Kintu says he started painting after visiting an art studio known as Ngoma in Bukoto area of Uganda.
“In the first year I supported himself by brick-laying in the day time while painting at night,” he says. “It was not till 2004 when I sold my first painting that I realised it was possible to be a full time artist.”
Like Akiiki, Kintu’s art is inspired by the day-to-day events of his surroundings. He says he uses acrylic and oils on canvas as his main medium.
Edward Waddimba, a sculptor and painter who also serves as Managing Director of Wesart Interiors and a committee member of Uganda Visual Artists and Designers Association, mostly paints female figures. He is a self-taught artist who lives and works in Gayaza, Uganda.
Anwar Sadat is the second of three artist brothers from Bweyogerere area of Uganda.
“As a child,” he says, “I would use charcoal and the chalk I ‘borrowed’ from school to draw muscle-men on any freshly painted wall. I also made paintings and collages out of off-cuts from my mother’s tailoring material.”
Though he had been giving away his art, he says he decided to take up art as a career “when I found out that people hang my art work on the walls of their houses.”
Yusuf Ngula, a self- taught sculptor and painter who describes himself as a global artist from Africa, says he discovered there was an arty side in him at an early age although his parents were not keen on letting their children take up art as a career.
His paintings dwell on subjects like war and politics as, he says, “I derive my content from television, books, and human relationships.”
Critics wonder how Siraj Damulira, who works with subdued colours, manages to achieve brilliant art work.
Damulira whose main medium is oil colour on Canvas, simply says, “My signature work technique is background blending with sepias and colour toning. My human forms are also done in blending tones to create an impressionistic effect.”