Henry Mujunga aka Mzili is a legend in the local art scene of Kampala. Having attended Makerere Art School from 1993 to 1995, some of the great modernists of Uganda’s post-independence period have been his teachers or his teachers’ mentors.Read More >>
By Assoc. Prof. George Kyeyune
Start Journal of Arts and Culture is coming back after a break of almost a year. The break was necessary for its internal adjustment and re-organisation to set it on a new footing. It now has a new editorial team that constitutes high profile Africanists: Prof. Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, Assoc. Prof. George Kyeyune, Dr. Angelo Kakande and Ms. Margaret Nagawa.
The documentation and representation of an event is never objective but individual and biased. This is most apparent when you have the privilege of both, being a team member and an observer of a key art event like the KampalaRead More >>
At the launch of Another Roadmap Africa Cluster, at Nagenda International Academy of Art and Design (NIAAD) on 25th July 2015, some of the panelists choose to address the audience in Luganda, a local language in Uganda. The initial impression on the invited guests that included academics, artists, art managers and writers was of confusion and awkwardness.Read More >>
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’.Read More >>
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.
Recently I was listening to this ballad by Fela Anikulapo Kuti where he asserted that it is in the Western cultural tradition to carry sh*t. That Africans were taught by European man to carry sh*t. Dem go cause confusion and corruption’. How? Dem get one style dem use, dem go pick up one African man with low mentality and give him 1 million Naira bread to become one useless chief.
Artist Henry Mzili Mujunga speaks his mind about interference within the art scene in Africa.
“The enslavement of the African has persisted despite his desire for the liberties of capitalism. The oppressor and his kindred have continued to spread their greedy tentacles to engulf any outcrops of resistance. We cannot breathe the fresh air of liberty because the clever chameleon changes its spot like the dreaded HIV/Aids. These sound like chants straight out of the communist manifesto, but they are simply the lamentations of a hopeless artist whose every move forward has been checked by disparaging stereotypes. One would be quick to assume that art is the last frontier of resistance to this form of suppression and dominance. After all, it is what really defines a people’s existence.” Mzili speaks.Read More >>
“Politicians in the developed world understand the importance of culture in defining a people. So they support the museums, galleries, theatres and the other public cultural institutions. In Uganda, it is the opposite. The musicians, artists, playwrights and comedians are on their own. They work tirelessly propagating what is unique and definitive about their country.” Henry Mzili Mujunga speaks out.Read More >>
In this third and final part of a three-part essay, Angelo Kakende reviews the recent Nude 2012-exhibition at FasFas: “Nudes 2012 was different from Nude 2000, Nude 2001… It was mobilised with local resources and initiatives. This created the burden of the need to sell and recover costs. In my opinion, it is this economic incentive which affected the positions the artists took while. They treaded carefully avoiding the risk of offending anyone.”Read More >>
The exhibition ‘Olubugo Reloaded’ at FAS FAS Gallery is important because it presents artworks based on the bark cloth material with a focus on what place it has in Uganda and within the contemporary arts of Uganda. Art lecturer in fibers and weaving, Lesli Robertson of the University of North Texas, continues to see that bark cloth is finding stronger ground every year and it is through the work of Ugandan artists and designers that this material continues to elevate its place within contemporary art.Read More >>
“The time has finally arrived that Africa begin to look to Africa for answers. We are starting to think about making East Africa our market place. But we can not go far without drastically improving the quality of our products. For too long we have made inefficient production schedules and products. On the other hand, a myriad of questions are raised to which answers cannot be immediately found. Still, these questions must be asked and answered if our art is to grow into the cultural void in which we find ourselves.” Ugandan visual artist SANE reflects on the East African Art Summit.Read More >>
The project of taking art to the street that Sadolin is spearheading will give artists and their ‘new audience’ the opportunity to dialogue. The artists will cast their nets beyond the gallery visitors to include local audiences. They will understand each other better and gradually develop images that match their expectations. Mabarti art project has confirmed to the Kampala dwellers and visitors that there is a community of artists in Uganda actively and devotedly practicing art and that these artists would like to reach out to them.Read More >>
The brand named Ronex is built upon continuous experimentation. Every waking hour – and sometimes during sleep – his brain is working on extracting the images from within, discovering artwork he didn’t know that he kept inside. He moves in all kind of directions, and hides away his finished work because he fears making copies.Read More >>
David Oduki, the co-founder of Royal African Foundation, attended the opening of the exhibition “Let Us Share Beauty” in Utrecht, the Netherlands. “Local galleries in Uganda should be aware of global trends and adapt exhibitions to those trends. They also should promote the likes of Collin Sekajugo and explain their recycling message to the local public,” David Oduki tells Startjournal.Read More >>
Testament to the strength and innovation of Uganda’s artistic community, the Controversial Art Exhibition at Kampala’s Afriart Gallery sought to challenge traditional perceptions of African art. Henry Mzili Mujunga’s catalogue text, Finding the Controversy, offers an insight into the premises of this exhibition. Here he boldly exclaims that the work of “the true heroes of Ugandan art” could be found in this small, yet adventurous display. And he was right.Read More >>
Henry Mzili Mujunga shows you, step-by-step, how to do Woodcut Printmaking using a Dark-to-Light Technique. Woodcut prints are usually strong, simple designs in monochrome or in just a few colors. Because of this, woodcuts have the advantage of being easy to reproduce, which made them a popular form of illustration before modern printing methods. Click here to learn how to print dark-to-light.Read More >>