Ugandan art breaking new ground
Uganda's art market is small. Artists generally produce works that tourists like - and will buy. This doesn't offer much scope for creativity. The hope is that this will change with the Uganda Arts Diary 2014.
A colorful 2014
It's breaking new ground on the Ugandan art scene. Fifty two key Ugandan artists are exhibiting their work jointly on high quality paper in a ring book diary format. Every week introduces a different work and its creator. Art lovers will also find the addresses of galleries and art markets in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.This picture is called "Hope", it was created by Ronald Ro Kerango.
New idea from Kenya
The diary was compiled and funded by British social entrepreneur and long-time Uganda resident Sam Rich. The idea for the project came from neighboring Kenya. This picture by Mark Kassi Byamugisha is called "Half Time."
Becoming an artist
Joseph Ntensibe bought a Mercedes from the proceeds of his first art sale. He said afterwards this made him feel rather stupid. Now aged 62, he recalls making toys out of banana leaves as a child. These days Ntensibe paints scenes showing Uganda's diverse natural beauty with extreme precision – this work is entitled "Watering Hole."
Fighting for survival
"The Next Meal" is the title given to this picture by Arnold Birungi. A Ugandan woman is sorting coffee beans. This is how she earns her living so she can buy food for herself and her children. Ugandan coffee enjoys world renown and is also expensive. Birungi, 41, teaches art classes and works as an illustrator to pay for his own next meal.
The works in the Uganda Arts Diary 2014 reflect both new and old trends in Ugandan society. A discarded bicycle tire and a wooden stick, as seen in this picture by David Kigozi, are typical child's toys in Uganda. Kigozi is one of Uganda's best known artists and his work has been exhibited in Europe.
The art of living
Paul Kaspa's "Tree of Life" shows a traditional African ritual. The village community assembles under the shade of a big tree. Kaspa, 33, studied art, but today he also works as a counselor for HIV/AIDS sufferers and street children. Ideally, he would like to run an art school for children.
Taga Nuwagaba sold his first picture while he was still at school. Then he moved to London to try his luck there. But he became homesick for Uganda, a feeling which is also conveyed by his paintings. Fishing on the shores of Lake Victoria is one of his typical subjects.
Bright colors that tell a story
Robert Yiga's pictures are reminiscent of comics and they tell of his tough childhood as an orphan in a Ugandan village and how he had to struggle to earn enough money to put himself through school. Garish yellow and orange are the hallmark of his work. He paid for his course at art school by selling his pictures.
The Ugandan capital Kampala can be a chaotic place and surviving in it can be an art in itself. But it still attracts creative people from across the country. In Kampala, they can network, exhibit and sell their art. For Cliff Kibuuka, the metropolis itself is a source of inspiration.
Fighting corruption with a paintbrush
Uganda's artists campaign against corruption and abuse of office. Eria Nsubuga's picture of a corpulent civil servant, who "feeds" on taxpayers' millions intended for the health sector, shows that Uganda's artists regard themselves as the conscience of the nation. Nsubuga is also fond of depicting pop stars and politicians in expensive automobiles.
Art in the service of wildlife
Initially, Sam Rich didn't want pictures of animals or scenery in the diary. That was typical tourists' stuff. But then he saw this portrait of a mountain gorilla by Jjuuko Hoods. With the proceeds from the sale of his work, Hood wants to help save the rain forest and the gorillas' habitat. This work is now part of the diary, which can be found here: facebook.com/ugandaartsdiary