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Pamela Enyonu holds first solo exhibition in Dubai

Speaking art: Enyonu’s works showcase her extensive exploration of fear and its effects on human expression.

Emerging Ugandan mixed media artist, Pamela Enyonu, is holding her first international solo exhibition “Kopotu Ipikosi (And they overcame)” at the AKKA Project in Dubai, Al Quoz in United Arab Emirates.

The month-long exhibition which showcases Enyonu’s most recent experiments is part of the Dubai Art Week programme that opened on February 28 and closes on March 31, 2023.

Kopotu Ipikosi, which literally translates to “and they overcame”, in Enyonu’s language, Ateso, will explore the complex relationship between fear and human interaction, presenting fear as more than just a natural emotion.

Enyonu’s body of work showcases her extensive exploration of fear and its effects on human expression. Through her paintings, she investigates the sources of inception, modes of propagation, and ways to protect human expression from the grasp of fear.

With a focus on identity, trauma, healing, and empowerment, Enyonu aims to redefine the construct of fear and bring a unique contemporary African perspective to the subject.

“This exhibition is the first part in a three-part interrogation centered on overcoming fear. I am particularly interested in our collective fear of equality and difference,” Enyonu told Daily Monitor.

According to Enyonu, the exhibition invites audiences to reflect on their own experiences with fear and the ways in which women are often subjected to it in a patriarchal society.

“Aesthetic considerations include using majority female subjects, simple flat moody backgrounds partially inspired by Mark Rothko colour fields paintings, invoking a certain kind of spirituality, borders and a running stitch representing frames and the act of reframing (fear) and systemic injustices. The running stitch also holds personal significance for me as it anchors my practice to the women who first taught me how to create through their training in artisanal skillset such as weaving, sewing, among others,” Enyonu says.

The exhibition will feature a series of paintings created specifically for the show and they include To Love a God, The 28th, Achen, A reclamation, A lament for Isaac, Broken Lines, Sweet Nothings, Data Firms, Eschatological Howl and Equilibrium.

To Love a God shows two disconsolate girls holding Bibles. Enyonu says this artwork is questioning patriarchal religions in the oppression of women Inspired by a picture of Gayaza High School girls on their confirmation day. Touted as one of the most important days of their Christian life, neither of the girls is smiling. The main questions are what does it mean to love a god? And why does he deserve love?

Achen depicts a lonely female figure seated in a liminal space with her pet. According to Enyonu, across the globe women of child-bearing age are constantly threatened with the idea of dying alone with 10 cats, if they do not obey or give themselves to men.

When asked what the importance of Enyonu’s solo exhibition, the AKKA Project co-founder, Lidija Kostic Khachatourian, replied: “Given that Pamela has only recently become a full time artist, it is a confirmation for her as an artist and that what she has to say is important, and the public is listening, her voice is heard.”

“For me as the AKKA Project founder, it is very important as I can see our artists growing. By giving them space to freely express, we question important issues such as equality, feminism, being a woman or simply being, not only concerning African society but generally everyone,” Lidija added.

According to Lidija, Enyonu has found her true expression by using handmade paper integrated with traditional fibre, as raffia. Her style can be defined as semi abstract.

Enyonu’s works present a three-dimensional qualities exploring narratives on gender, identity, empowerment, and self-awareness.

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