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Exploring the sea with Ismael Kateregga

By Stephen Ssenkaaba

Added 10th August 2017 06:07 PM

The exhibition explores life at Lamu Island, a vibrant fishing hub off the Kenyan coast. He does not stop there. He uses his paintbrush to tease out any lingering parallels with life along the shores of Lake Victoria.

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The exhibition explores life at Lamu Island, a vibrant fishing hub off the Kenyan coast. He does not stop there. He uses his paintbrush to tease out any lingering parallels with life along the shores of Lake Victoria.

IT had been a couple of years before visual art lovers saw Ismael Kateregga in all his artistic glory. The experienced painter spent some years off the exhibition scene, working quietly and learning a few more useful tips for the trade. This year has been some sort of resurgence for him as he has showcased some interesting work.

 
His most recent exhibition is currently ongoing at Afri Art gallery in Kamwokya and even though the exhibition titled Tales from the East Afrigandan coast will be coming down in a few days, many of his fans still have a chance to enjoy Kateregga’s subtle palette; to take in his masterly of nature in  very refreshing ways.

 
The exhibition explores life at Lamu Island, a vibrant fishing hub off the Kenyan coast. He does not stop there. He uses his paintbrush to tease out any lingering parallels with life along the shores of Lake Victoria. And that might explain the “gandan” aspect to his theme.

 
The result is a colourful portrayal of the old and the new in his visual display.  We see a beautiful sea side with the heavenly blue skies watchfully hovering over the sandy beaches. The Island is lined with the old style dhows that characterized fishing as the mainstay of the people on Lamu Island. This is carefully juxtaposed with the canoes that are more common on the shores of Lake Victoria. We see less of the surrounding buildings and more of the fishing markets on the shores.

There is more to this work than the colourful shadowy display of brown, grey and reddish hues and the careful play with space as evidenced in Kateregga’s minimalist work.

 
There is an important message beyond the clear blue skies and the meticulous arrangements of the dhows and canoes below them. It is the story of modernity versus tradition; a story of the old and the new.

It is the story of the daily struggles of ordinary fishermen to survive against serious odds. You will see in his work the grit and determination of the coastal people to stay true to their ways of life amid a sweeping tide of modernity and climate change and the reassuring promise of the sky.

 
Kateregga spent time with the fishing communities in Lamu, listening to their stories and trying to understand their life through their eyes.

He therefore paints from experience. This is work you will have to look at with your eyes and mind to fully appreciate.

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