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Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Matt Kayem

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In Conversation with Henry “Mzili” Mujunga

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I think I wouldn’t encourage people to become full time artists. I never even encouraged my students to become full time artist because you don’t go to school and learn to become one. Being an artist is a calling, you are either called to be that out of a need inside you or you are driven by circumstances. But I encourage most of my students to be creative, always question and be productive. The only way we can show our worth is through what we say and do, in other words through action. The more you say and do good things, the more you are considered productive and the more you will be rewarded.

Matt Kayem in conversation with the Ugandan artist Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga
Dripping Earth, 2019. Courtesy Circle Art Gallery

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John Baptist Ssekubulwa: Brain damage

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John Baptist Ssekubulwa is among the fresh young minds on the Kampala art scene. A cluster of intelligent and ambitious fellows initiating conversations and stirring them, an ingredient that is new to the young art scene. He has just had his first solo show at Afriart gallery and this is why I had to hunt him down for a good old one on one.

Matt Kayem in conversation with John Baptist Ssekubulwa
The artist in his studio
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Evans Mbugua and Dennis Osadebe : A Spectacular Now

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Two artists from different generations, different parts of the continent but speaking the same language- pop! Their union was lively one, a much-needed one for a scene that is not used to such vibrancy.

Artist and critic Matt Kayem on the Afro-Pop of Evans Mbugua and Dennis Osadebe
Dennis Osadebe, Gentleman on a Hors Indoors, 2018

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The relevance of the Kampala Biennial 2018

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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

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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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