Ephrem Solomon set out to introduce me to the group of artists he grew up with and who, like him, use their art as a platform for social commentary. I return home grateful and fulfilled; the visits I have made with him have brought me closer to the heart of modern Ethiopia.
Author: Rosalie van Deursen
The Kampala Art Biennale is an effective way to put East Africa and its art scene on the international map. I am already looking forward to the third edition that will undoubtedly also have a bigger local impact. Like anyone in Kampala being bombarded daily by religious and materialistic messages, a confrontation with creative minds that make one question oneself and the society one lives in is very refreshing and valuable.
Rosalie van Deursen on ‘Seven Hills’, the Kampala Art Biennale.
“People do not come to me, because I come to them. I exhibit in their environment, just on the street. That’s taboo breaking. They often do not understand what art is all about but they are curious and ask questions. When I have not exhibited for four months they ask when the next exhibition will be. Some even send their children to me so they can learn to draw. So there is a radical change going on in terms of the appreciation of contemporary art in Bamako. Fortunately it’s not limited to the international art scene!”
Rosalie van Deursen travelled to Bamako to talk with local artists about contemporary art in Mali.
Amadou Sanogo, Headless, 2016.
“Suffering feels like coals that burn on your skin. That’s what I do with paper. I paste multiple layers of different types of paper onto each other and then I burn holes in it with coals.” Oussou stresses: “Remember, without suffering there is no happiness.”
Rosalie van Deursen on the work of Thierry Oussou, one of the artists in ‘What about Africa?’ at Witteveen Visual Art Centre, Amsterdam.
Trace XI, 2015.
“Art is a fluent matter so let’s go beyond localization of ideas, because thoughts are global. Besides, Africa is not blackness and blackness is also not Africa, but global. Let’s look at the different narratives that exist in history.”