Over the years, some things are pretty predictable about a calendar year in art. Talk about Makerere University’s Margaret Trowell always starting the year with a collective exhibition of the professors. The exhibition, ‘Different But One’ was always the first activity that set the ball rolling for exhibitions elsewhere.
Then there was the Afriart Gallery’s exhibitions at the beginning of the year with Ronex. Since Covid-19 redesigned humanity, many of these shows have not happened, in fact, the last ‘Different But One’ may have taken place in 2019.
And this could be the gap that Xenson’s Art Space is trying to fill with their ‘Look One’ group exhibitions; this year’s edition was just their second and yet, it seems they are building a cult following especially among young and rising artists.
Initially, the first ‘Look One’ was held in September, a few months after the first lockdown had been lifted in 2020. This went on into the first months of 2021 and the art space decided not to host another exhibition of the kind. However, when they started hosting solo art exhibitions, artists that had been part of the first ‘Look One’ exhibition came in handy.
Most of them have continued soaring with their differing voices, styles, and techniques.
On Saturday, the second group of artists was unveiled, again in an exhibition, ‘Look One’, Edition Two. This group consisted of Kyakonye Allan, Sakina Khanjiwala, Matovu Frank, Simon Peter alias Sai Art and Ntale Eriya.
The five, according to Xenson Art Space manager and curator, Dorothy Nabunjo, were selected after a call was put out by the art space.
She says that they were looking for artists that had something to say and bring something different to the table, but above all, they were interested in artists that may have never had a chance at a solo exhibition.
Khanjiwala for instance, a Ugandan artist of Indian descent has never had her work displayed in a gallery and says had no idea of how she would achieve that.
She was the only girl in the group of five and in many ways her work was different. Her love for colour, especially the vibrant side of it is vivid in works such as Burning Garden, a sad story that she seems to tell with lots of colour and detail.
Khanjiwala also tries out lots of things during her process, besides using mattress and sponge clippings for effect, she at times lets the paint take its direction such as rolling down the canvas in a manner it may please, this adds a certain sense of depth to her work.
Then in Kyakonye, he recycles aluminum foil that is usually used to cover food – the artist repurposes foil and uses it as collage to create images and different shapes. He turns out to be a bit minimalistic and his paintings have very few colours, besides that provided by the foils, he usually goes for three colours with white or the canvas colour inclusive. For many of the pieces though, it is just the foil shapes created that are visible.
Matovu Frank is a self-taught artist whose work mirrors that of his mentor, Remmy Sserwadda. Matovu and Ntale Eriya are both mentored by Sserwadda and thus based at the True Colors of Art studio. Of course, both their works are directly influenced by real-life stories so it is not surprising that just like Sserwadda, they all love painting real humans.
Just like Ntale was a muse for Sserwadda’s Friend Request, he too has a model in Semakula, a child whose dream is to become a pilot.
Then Simon Peter Sai, a mixed media artist from Gulu, works with different materials such as product labels, newspaper cutting as well as fabric.
Most of the artists were exhibiting for the first time and they hope to have personal exhibitions soon, just like Sserwadda who was part of the first ‘Look One’ but later held his own.
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