Besigye, Mao, Oulanyah Clash On Canvas

Satire and sarcasm are effective tools for mocking the political and social injustices of any society. Eria Sane Nsubuga does exactly this with his on-going show entitled ‘The King’s Women and Useless Art’at Afriart gallery in Kamwokya, Kampala.

The lanky and comic artist displays caricature paintings and drawings of familiar figures in Uganda’s political and social arena. The visual narrative of these works is comic, informative and intelligent.

The images of politicians like deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah, opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Nobert Mao and international figures like Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe aka Uncle Bob, create an immediate form of visual discourse between the viewer and the artwork. These are too familiar figures with many people and their presence as subject matter in this exhibit evokes curiosity and excitement.

The artist’s fusion of paper collage in most of the paintings-he’s arguably the best artist when it comes to the use of collage- adds to a dramatic and intelligent display of his art. The collage is like another piece of art within his work: something that communicates rather subtly the underlying message of the whole composition.

The artist is also quite smart in the way he avoids subjectivity: he merely tickles the mind of his audience with his exciting images so that they form the meaning of his work in their heads. The biblical influence on his work can be seen in paintings like ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius’, which is a portrait of a woman repenting. He also gets inspiration for his work from the political discourse of the day. He, for example, invokes one of the statements made by many politicians today that arts are useless and emphasis should be put on science subjects. The artist echoes this statement in most of his work in the exhibit a feature that peppers his work with hordes of sarcasm.

As for the allusion of the King’s women, the artist says, “Every one serves a King. The women too. Who the king is should be left up to the viewers to decide.” This statement is conveyed in the painting The Kings Women (Mangoes for Lunch) which has images of familiar women (politicians) holding newspaper cutting with lead stories like Bajeti entadisse okuluma, Why you should choose an International School, and Mangoes for lunch. This allusion is testimony to the localising of art the artist has always aocated for.

“Artists should go native to have a local impact in their work,” he once wrote in an article published by, “Artists should put their creative minds into Uganda culture.”

The academic artist- he’s a lecturer at Nkumba Universisty- has once again etched his name as political satirist artist. His previous show, Abanene, which received a thumbs up from art critics across the continent has been followed with another show that will be a subject of discussion for the rest of the year. Importantly though, Sane has set the bar high for his contemporaries who think that their only audience are expatriates and tourists. The local politicians and civil rights activists will certainly want to buy Sane’s art because it communicates to them.

The exhibition opened on Sept. 6 and will be open until the last week of September at Afriart Gallery, Kamwokya.

Source : The Independent

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