The Stray Bulletin

Arts and culture in East Africa and beyond

An Ode To Endless Beauty April 19, 2010

Published in AfricanColours.com on Tue 09-03-2010, and The EastAfrican on 05-04-2010

A two-man show currently at Tulifanya Gallery in Kampala unites, for the first time, two previous winners of the coveted ‘Discoveries Young Artists’ Exhibition’ of 2007 and 2009 Ronald ‘Ro’ Odokotho and Yusuf Kiire Ngula respectively.

The artists, whose works are on show from February 20th to March 13th 2010, work exclusively in acrylics.

Untitled by Yusuf Ngula

Born in 1986, Ngula says that from secondary school, he realized that there was a side to him that was “arty”, even though his parents dictated different avenues that would make it easier for their children to succeed in life. It was not by accident but sheer determination, that he pursued his interest in art.

And although circumstances dictated that he pursue a more tenable career, even after graduating from the Makerere Business School, he continued to see art as a “side business.”

As a self-taught artist, his work is different from what we have experienced from formally trained artists. He has cleared up any doubts about his ability by collaborating with a couple of renowned Ugandan contemporary artists liked Paulo Akiiki, Mark Kassi, Ismail Damba, Juuko Hood and Yusuf Ssali – collaborations that undoubtedly helped him hone his craft.

He paints subjects based on the two great influences of modern times; war and television.

“I can’t say my art is based upon African art – in Uganda, someone telling you that?” He shakes his head incredulously. “Except if he is from the sixties. But we have matured; in front of TV, the books we read, from comics and movies we watch, from the language we talk to what we are taught in school. The context applies in my art.”

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Public Art: Pillar of Peace Sheds Symbols of War

Filed under: Art reviews — Sophie Alal @ 8:56 pm
Tags: , , ,

Published in AfricanColours  on Mon 12-04-2010

In the hub of Gulu Town’s main business centre is a sculpture by the renowned Ugandan artist David Kigozi – ‘Pillar of Peace’ unveiled in July 2009.

It was commissioned by the Dutch Embassy to commemorate their educational projects in Northern Uganda. And since Gulu is popularly considered the centre of Northern Uganda, to which the surrounding regions are culturally and economically linked, it was also a call to abandon arms. Therefore the sculpture seemingly radiates its steely shine to the whole region.

Pillar of Peace by David  Kigozi

Pillar of Peace by David Kigozi photographed by Bryan Lupton

When the ‘Pillar of Peace’ had just been put up, it depicted a life-sized boy and girl standing behind a neat pile of books.

They stared keenly at the page open before them, their arms leafing through large pages. At the sides of their feet were five guns cast aside. This symbolized their shift towards courting the acquisition of knowledge other than conflict.

However, this work also bears a sinister story that is not often noticed by casual onlookers. What were once five guns embedded in the concrete at the feet of the children have all but disappeared. Now there is only one gun embedded in the cement, the other four having been stolen. This is a constant source of distress for the artist who regarded it as his attempt at recording history. “I think I was disappointed, because this is now a destruction of a monument.” his voice falters and he adds, “It is as if the whole monument has been put down, or vandalised.”

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