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

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.

Mandela Wept 2015
Mandela Wept 2015

Startjournal: How did you choose not to be a commercial artist and yet many artist of your generation are interested in selling their art on a day to day basis?
Kwizera: I guess you can say I am more interested in doing work with more relevance than only producing art for the sake of sales.

StartJournal: What is your perception on art exhibitions as commercial platforms?
Kwizera: I know at the end of the day, we all want to earn from our practice. An exhibition for many artists on the local art scene is one of those a venues to achieve that goal, but our vocation as artists is much, much bigger than that.

Unfortunately the habit of producing art for art exhibitions has had a negative impact on the industry. It has led to mass production and poor quality of art. You can see that that this has affected the type of audience coming to art exhibitions. Why should they keep coming to see the same thing over and over again? We have forgotten to attach an identity of relevance to our different forms of Art. That is the background of statements such as “I can’t afford it, art is only for tourists.” What a shame.

Startjournal: What influence has working in the mainstream media as an illustrator had on your art? Do you think it is important for artists to find other artistic avenues in order to get a fresh perspective on life and not replicate themselves?
Kwizera: The influence has been positive. As an illustrator today, i have learnt to be relevant in real time as i attach my work on what is happening on a daily basis, learning new tools that make work rather easier and faster, for the prevailing need, such as caricatures, cartoons, and digital portraits to mention but a few. It has given me whole different venues to venture in such as comic books, collaborating with designers, engineers, architects and animators. Not to mention, a big online presence.
Artists have to do much more than just sticking into our studios, the traditional way, for months. We have to be able to reach out and experiment, collaborate, embrace new tools, ways and practices that technology has brought. For example, so we can be relevant in today’s social, economic and developmental everyday issues. Then we can be viewed as agents of change. I am sure it is then that we shall start seeing growth in us and in our dear state.

Starjournal: You have a lot of strength in drawing as an expressionist artist. I have seen your 15 minutes sketchy drawings that are awesome. There is also this expressive anatomy drawing of the human heart. How does the medium influence your expressionistic style?
Kwizera: Oh yes, media plays a very big role in influencing my style, in a way, expressionism goes hand in hand with hard strokes and sharp contrasts which is why I love my charcoal and pastels. They have a range of sharp color and strokes that are highly expressive.

Expressive heart - Kwiz-Era
Expressive heart – Kwiz-Era

Startjournal: In a quest to be globally relevant in their art, artists on the continent now are blending modern technology like photography and video art in their artistry. Is this something you have considered working with already?
Kwizera: Very much so, Technology has brought all these tools, media and platforms. This is the reason we are now drawing and painting with Tablets. I am already working on a collaborative video exhibition with a sound engineer that will blend audio and visual experiences.

Startjournal: You are uniquely versatile and a non-conformist. How was your experience in art school at Makerere University?
Kwizera: Of course Art School has its traditional ways of doing things, it is where you find your teacher wanting you to paint in his kind of way other than guiding you through self -discovery. At Makerere I was a rebel of sorts. I wanted to do things my way and not follow tradition. This approach has stuck with me until today and has conspired to my dynamism in theme, media and genres.

Kwizera stands in front of his mural painting at Iguana, where he also has his studio.
Kwizera stands in front of his mural painting at Iguana, where he also has his studio.

Startjournal: Your studio is set up within a bar. Why is this so?
Kwizera: He he he (laughs a bit). I must admit, the idea has grown on me, I realize that I am not that artist that will hide away and produce work to show later. A way from everything else, I prefer to have it this way because it is only then that the audience will feel as if part of the work. By bringing it to the public, you get to interact with all sorts of people from all corners of the world. The different opinions and perspective based discussions instill other dimensions in your work.

Emerged 2nd in 4 winners of 28 Artists that participated in the 2nd Sadolin Mabarti Challenge 2014.
Emerged 2nd in 4 winners of 28 Artists that participated in the 2nd Sadolin Mabarti Challenge 2014.

Startjournal: What is your philosophy on art?
Kwizera: Art is a tool, one step closer to the TRUTH and REALITY. If one pays a closer look, he or she will learn to believe. I mean all forms of belief. I am inspired by Leonardo Da vinci who said; “There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see”

Startjournal: You have an interesting portfolio. Have you considered participating in any art Festival?
Kwizera: Let me assume INTERESTING in a good way. Yes, i hungrily want to participate in as many art Festivals across the continent. This will raise my voice as an artist and it is an opportunity to get ideas for my work.

The images are courtesy of the Artist