Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Matt Kayem

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The relevance of the Kampala Biennial 2018


The Kampala Biennial 2018 was not a normal one.
Curator Simon Njami chose to introduce a system that could make the contemporary artist. Since he is convinced that Kampala does not have contemporary artists worth showing–off to the world, he invited seven internationally acclaimed and foreign artists to train young artists from the city. Designated ‘masters’ and their students ‘apprentices’, they were tasked to pass on their precious knowledge to the young ones in a ten-day intensive studio workshop session for each of them. Within that context, the title of the biennial, The Studio, made sense.

Matt Kayem talks about the relevance of this year’s Kampala Biennial.

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Stacey Gillian Abe


Research is pivotal in my opinion to creating a strong body of work and also to have different viewpoints of a specific topic of interest. It must however be of significance to the researcher or artist. How it is perceived and of what relevance it holds to anyone besides the artist is relative. My concepts are more or less birthed from a personal context and then blown out of proportion, shrunk, distorted or disintegrated from which possible meaning and interpretations are shifted.

Matt Kayem, Ugandan artist and art critic, interviews Stacey Gillian Abe
Enya Sa I, 2017

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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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