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Stimulating artistic inquiry with Ronex’ Bags

The Exhibition titled Bags that opened recently at Afriart gallery in Kampala is a continuation of the innovation, participation and interaction. The artist showcases bags in both small and big sizes with artworks emblazoned on their faces. Some of the images are abstract while others are semi-abstract with human figures and familiar motifs like the pair of fish wedged on canvas, the miniature human face parallel to the miniature standing human figure and the now popular KLA motif.

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Surviving Ugandan Art

Nonetheless I chastised him for having not increased on the size of his format since we last met. I also wondered why he had not moved away from typical imagery of women plaiting hair, boda-boda cyclists, bare landscapes and birds which have dominated his work since the 80s.He was quick to point out that his work style had been shaped by his days in self exile.

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‘But I wonder, why do we have to be so bothered about the challenges of being received abroad?’ – Q&A with curator Bisi Silva

Start: The 10th Photography Biennale: Bamako Encounter is celebrating photography as an artform. What are still some of those challenges photographers from the continent face to be accepted on the International scene?
Bisi: The 10th Bamako Encounters: African Biennale of Photography is the principal and longest running platform for the presentation of the work of African and African Diaspora photographers and artists to showcase their work to a continental and international audience.
But I wonder, why do we have to be so bothered about the challenges of being received abroad? What about the huge challenges of photographers being accepted across Africa? I think that is where we need to direct our attention.

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A Tree in Public Space

In October 2014, a Mutuba or fig tree was the focus of intense debate during an art exhibition. The Mutuba grows across tropical Africa, and is farmed in Uganda for its use in the making of bark cloth. This centuries old tradition is both cultural and historical. Therefore, it is surprising that the debate at the time, between the KLA ART 014 exhibition organizers and the KCCA, Kampala Capital City Authority, involved a disagreement about where the tree would be planted.

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Ebishushani 2&3: Exhibition archiving Uganda’s history

A second photograph exhibition, Ebishushani 2&3 presented by History in Progress, Uganda at Makerere Art gallery imbues elements of documenting Uganda’s social-political landscape during the colonial and post-colonial regime, inviting dialogue on the significance of photography as a non-traditional art genre within the contemporary arts and creating an intelligent visual discourse that facilitates academic research in form of archive.

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Thank you for your support, we are almost there!

Help Startjournal reach its fundraising goals as we count down the days from the start the of StartJournal Fundraising Campaign until it will end on the 31st of May. We are most grateful to people like you who make our work and the journal possible through your support. Your money not only provides young writers the opportunity to write about the arts, it also supports the documenting of East African and African Art, archives what is happening in the art scene and keeps our website updated & online.

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Boda-Boda series by Bwabale Ivan

Beautiful Imperfections: An exhibition of sculptures by Makerere Alumni

With Beautiful Imperfections, the artists continue a journey of both self and artistic exploration started when they were students of Margaret Trowell school of Fine art. Their choice to come back to exhibit here manifests the faith they have in the institution and an insatiable appetite to better themselves at every level of their artistry.

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“We have forgotten to attach an identity of relevance to our different forms of Art” – Q&A with Kwiz-Era

“We have forgotten to attach an identity of relevance to our different forms of Art”. Kwizera who goes by the moniker Kwiz-Era is an illustrator and Artist. Startjournal.org had a Q&A with him at his studio within Iguana Bar and asked him why it is important for artists to be relevant and not think about mass production.

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Inspired by Western Modern Art

Eria Sane Nsubuga an academic at Christian University Mukono in the department of Fine Arts, says that referring to the work of others shows an awareness of self and others. “It is therefore natural given the residual western political and educational set up for African artists to refer to the work of the European masters that we saw in the Art History books. Incidentally those same books as a matter of design more than accident, said nothing about our own indigenous art.” he quotes in his essay, ‘Dead men tell no tales’.

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Abstract

Artists are continuously searching for inspiration for their art. Ideas often tend to be situated within their locale i.e personal experience, studio space, galleries, museums, workshops and artists residences. Yet there is another source of inspiration for many contemporary African artists: Western modern art.
An exhibition, Head, by Ugandan conceptual artist, Henry Mzili Mujunga at Afriart gallery, Kampala in 2014, showcased different connotation of the Head. The artist figuratively alluded to the vessel of knowledge and intelligence as dick head and spatter head. His technique of employing a monochrome palette of powder paint and infusing the tradition and the contemporary evoked Oliver Cromwell’s drawings of the head on spike. The 18th century painter used the drawings to symbolize the anarchical behavior of the aristocrats in Europe. In the same manner, Mzili paintings of the head, mocks and satirizes the despotic nature of African regimes and the West’s plot to re-colonized Africa.
Christ at Golgotha a famous painting by Romare Bearden (1945) was adopted by Eria Sane Nsubuga. Sane’s acrylic painting of the same subject matter, was based on his deep-seated Christian faith and an affinity to link Western modern Art with Contemporary African art.
While several artists both on the local and continent art scene continue to be inspired by works of Western modernist artists, how does this affect their artistry? Does it dilute or concretize it? What audience are they appealing to in pursuing this trend? Isn’t this a form of elitism that propagates stereotypes in art appreciation?
The article will critique this artistic trend and give answers to these questions using the voice of prominent art scholars and critics.

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Literature on African contemporary art at the 32o East Resource centre

Art writing encourages dialogue in the Arts

Last year in March, 32°East, a centre for contemporary arts in Uganda run a art writing residence for three months at their premises in Kansanga. The program co-sponsored by the British Council and Startjournal.org had one art writer, Dominic Muwanguzi, researching and producing articles that were published in the online journal.
Based from his experience from the residency, Muwanguzi a seasoned art journalist working in Kampala became more confident in his writing. For once, he became aware of the relationship that exists between writer, artist and audience.

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Road to No where "Exodus" by Joseph Ntensibe

Art collecting supports Art

Uganda’s art collectors are famously business men, art managers, foreign expatriates and artists themselves. In the past five years, there has been a surge in the buying art because of an increased number of artists on the local art scene, an influx of art galleries and organizations opening around Kampala, heightened exposure to the global art market and last but not least, political stability.

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A conversation with comic artist Chris Mafigiri

Chris Mafigiri Mugarura is a professional comic artist living in Kampala. He has been a comic artist since his childhood but started Journalism at Uganda Christian University, Mukono. In 2013, he won the comic book competition organized by the Goethe Zentrum Kampala/ UGCS. This led to his publishing the book, Children of War that was recently launched at the Cultural offices in Kamwokya, Kampala.
Startjournal Editor, Dominic Muwanguzi, sat with him and asked him about his latest book and how Comics influence other art forms.

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Images, Reflections, Objects

I was impressed, both in the affirmative and negative senses by the calculated way that racist philosophy is engrained in European culture.
Images of 2 dimensional photography, paint, paper, cloth; objects in 3 dimension, and audio-visual media have been used to project a consistent image of us. We put our work up in the subliminal awareness of the fact that our work, by virtual of being Ugandan or African and is telling a Ugandan story to an audience that has long held views of what Africa is or should be. My mission became not only to tell a Ugandan story but also to try and challenge the way that African stories are portrayed. Consistently I have desired to discuss ‘Race’, ‘colour’, ‘object’, ‘ekifananyi’, ‘image’ not in the mirrored way of showing ‘contemporary African art’ but also to show our art images and objects as needing liberation just as much as we do.

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Ndema’s Last Supper Painting Immortalizes Pan-Africanism

The Last Supper is a subject that has been reproduced in art severally. Leonardo Da Vinci’s 15th Century mural painting of Jesus Christ and his disciples seated at table having a meal of bread and wine that came to be immortalized in early Christian literature as the Last Supper has since become a source of inspiration for many artists. The present day production of the Last Super however does not involve a figure of Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples at the holly banquet.

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Totems of Uganda: A tribute to Ganda culture

A creation of Taga F. Nuwagaba and co-written by Nathan Kiwere, Totems of Uganda is a full-colour illustrated book with totemic species and accompanying stories of the same. The book captures Central Uganda’s cultural history and translates all totems in over seven languages. It links the totems with their visual representations so that they can be widely identified, especially by the younger generation.

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