You know that we don’t have so many platforms for contemporary art here, the huge exhibitions, biennales or festivals. The first time I went to the Kampala Biennale in 2016, I saw highly profiled artists whose work was being exhibited. And their work was exceptional, out of the norm, very experimental. I did my research on these artists and they were big shots. So, I thought I needed to be affiliated to such a platform.
Author: Matt Kayem
“………for the 59th edition of the event, Uganda made its first appearance. For a country that has been accused of having no art, this was an unprecedented. And for a country where the National Theatre was put up for sale by the unscrupulous of its putrescent government in favor of an investor erecting a shopping mall!
Matt Kayem on his country at the Venice Biennial
Collin Sekajugo, Stock Image 020 – Too Late, 2022. Ⓒ Collin Sekajugo Studio
Gateja’s work is also very reminiscent of traditional African craftworks like basket and mat weaving. It must be a conscious choice for a goldsmith like himself who trained in Europe and comes back to search and discover better gold in traditional techniques that his forefathers perfected a long time ago. It is his way of keeping these practices alive but also adding his own spin to the magic.
Matt Kayem on the work of Sanaa Gateja from Uganda
A new day, 2020, Paper beads on bark cloth, 214 x 144cm
The work on show is clearly the artist’s response to the covid-19 pandemic. The artist is among the few that have veered away from their usual themes in their works to tackle an immediate issue. He relays in the catalogue under the exhibition brief that when he was going through his sketch book at the beginning of the pandemic, he found sketches of figures wearing masks which he couldn’t remember where the inspiration came from.
Matt Kayem on the work of Xenson
There is no day that I will stand and pretend that I wove the mats or the bags, I mean, that would be a blatant lie but in terms of taking these pieces as additive spices to tell a new story that involves their work, yes, that makes me the artist.