The first time I saw Paul Ndema’s work was a while ago when he used to actively showcase his paintings.
By Stephen Ssenkaaba
The first time I saw Paul Ndema’s work was a while ago when he used to actively showcase his paintings. I remember his experimental techniques with candle wax and fire on paper; his rather red impastos and sunshine yellow themes. He did venture into designs and has somehow stuck there.
His exhibition this weekend at Afri Art gallery in Kamwokya will be his point of return to the art exhibition hall after some time. Ndema’s exhibit’s main feature will be an assortment of artistically designed T-shirts in different colours- yellow, black, light blue purple and pink.
Each of these is embroidered with caricatures, pop images and semi abstract prints. Ndema’s T-shirts are a slight departure from what we see on the streets as they turn once plain looking clothes into functional pieces of fine art. The images on the T-shirts speak of this man’s obsession with mysterious imagery.
There is an image of tree branches with birds on them, sprouting inside of an oval shape with a writing of Kampala +256 on it. Ndema does not explain very much what it is; rather letting the viewer make out whatever they will of it.
I guess it is his way of adding geographical relevance to an artwork that will be consumed and mostly used in our city and for whoever might take it away from Uganda, perhaps a memorable souvenir?
Ndema’s is a good attempt at combining beauty with function. His designs will hopefully become his trademark and a memorable insignia to his sometimes adventurous style.
Then there is the painting. Nothing like what you have known him for. From the patchy, red and yellow spreads on the canvass, today he goes into something Pop-artish; in a way that would make Andy Wahol smile.
Beautiful but exaggerated female faces hidden under dark coloured sun glasses- the little pretty wearers of these shades and their Afro hairstyles could have been taken out of an 80s pop music album.
Not known to paint excessively large pictures, Ndema’s paintings this time spread across the canvass in a way that enables the viewer indulge the eye.
“When you wear shades, you keep a certain mystery around you,” Ndema said when I asked him about his latest work. What about those little ‘windows’ inside the shades? Maybe he wants us to offer you a little sneak peek into the unknown.
Go find out. His exhibition won’t be up for long.
Paul Ndema’s sneak peek into the unknown