Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Matt Kayem

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Sanaa Gateja: The Bead King


1990 is when I started doing the bead work in Uganda and practice has spread all over Uganda, to Kenya, Rwanda and now South Africa. The beads have now become a Ugandan brand and when you google ‘paper beads’, Uganda has to come up somewhere.

Matt Kayem interviews the Ugandan artist Sanaa Gateja, the Bead King

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Waswad on the Future of Man


Spontaneity is a word that rings in Waswad’s head as he sets out to work on a piece of artwork. He says he doesn’t sketch or plan for the work and therefore works with his initial idea which he continues developing as the work progresses. He says he prefers to work with the raw idea, unhampered by rigorous planning and sketching which ends up destroying its originality.

Matt Kayem about the work of the Ugandan artist Waswad
Waswad’s Amasendela, albizia and ebony wood, 87 x 30 x 40cm. Photo by the artist.

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Canon Griffin: Clowning The Art Or Not?

You might ask yourself, what would be fascinating about the doll-like representations of humans? Is the artist playing with our minds? Is this just buffoonery? Why bring puppetry to the gallery? Well, why not? But there you have it. They are copies of us, made by us, meaning, they can easily stand in for us, which the artist does.

Matt Kayem on Posers of Canon Griffin.

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Contemporary Ugandan Artists


My criteria for choosing the artists on the list has included how long they have been practicing professionally, how active they are in terms of showing their work, sales of their work, strength and maturity of their concepts, aesthetics and technical competence, value at auction, novelty and the avant-garde factor in their work, personal taste, among many others.

Matt Kayem about the criteria for his top ten contemporary Ugandan artists

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