By Stephen Ssenkaaba
TAPESTRIES; colour, energy and depth. You rarely find all these in one place. I was lucky then to witness all four, and more, during my recent visit to Afriart Gallery in Kamwokya.
Here, in a one month exhibition that started two weeks ago, Sana Gateja, one of the most versatile Ugandan visual artists, and Charles Kamya, a young sculptor, share their dreams, ideas and views about life.
With Sana doing more of the wall hangings and decorative pieces, Kamya concentrates on a robust sculptural display- hard albizia wood pieces that visually tickle the mind. I see two contrasting styles that intersect in interesting ways.
Sana Gateja is a well-established artist, largely experienced in fabric making, beadwork and fashion designing. His work for this exhibition cuts across genres, on the one hand comprising wall hangings, enhanced with coloured beads and patches of painting and drawing inside them.
And on the other, he presents collage materials: pieces of wood stuck onto paper board to form geometric patterns. He even has improvised pieces of wood adorned with colour and images.
Gateja’s work (right) draws from the environment to speak about the environment. He uses materials that are locally available from our natural surroundings - beads, wood, sticks, stone, sisal, backcloth and paper.
His tapestries are pasted with beads carefully wrapped into paper in smooth oval shapes and intricately woven into images on surfaces of backcloth.
One particularly captivating image shows an image of a woman seemingly holding a basket and splashing some sort of seed. It is an interesting allusion to the great work that women do in our society.
But he also experiments with wood, putting together different pieces and turning them into artistic entities.
Provocative titles to some of his works- for instance “Eco-guardian”, “wild flowers”, “village scene” invite the viewer to think more about mother earth and its role in our lives.
Kamya’s work presents emotive three dimensional curving molded into shapely abstract motifs. Kamya has an interesting way with shapes that provide intense rhythm and a bit of complexity to his sculptures.
The smooth finishings to it, the clear, natural lines that adorn them all speak to a good understanding of this treacherous artform. His titles, such as “Midnight walk”, “Expectant”, “Alone” poignantly move us to reflect on our own lives.
This is art that you love to see and somehow never tire of.