After more than a year, Paul Ndema still looks the same; bespectacled
After more than a year, Paul Ndema still looks the same; bespectacled, with a shrub of well-trimmed beards around his tiny reddish lips.
His fondness for casual, subtle coloured T-shirts, faded jeans and simple leather shoes suggests a queer aura of murkiness around him; one that is more evident in the person than in his art.
Paulo, as he is known among friends, loves to work with colours. His palette reeks of a calm but colourful composition that takes everything else out of his painting.
His three-week exhibition will open on Wednesday at Design Agenda Gallery, former IPS Building. Ndemaâ€™s themes are the usual socio-politically charged issues. But it is his commitment to colour and space that grab the viewersâ€™ attention.
So, is Pauloâ€™s work one big game of tricks or just smart craftsmanship?
First, Ndema introduces very few, if any new ideas, he instead prefers to play around with various materials. His application of candle wax, copper wire, soot and paper marche to his collage collection adds a touch of creativity to what is a largely sober palette.
His exploration of ideas is innovative, presented in an adventurous, somewhat free style. His use of wax against paper to create a glittering brownish and black background makes interesting viewing as does his human forms made out of wire and cowrie shells.
Ndemaâ€™s work thrives on peculiar combinations of forms, techniques and media. There is coherence between his themes and ideas to suit a typical Ugandan lifestyle.
His work speaks about the hustles that people go through to survive. The incessant traffic jams, rural urban migration and overcrowding in the cities.
His images swim in a sea of monochromes very much limited to either blue or red and, in a few instances, brown, black or maroon. His application of collage adds a rich texture to a palette, which seems to cry out for other important elements such as line, proportion, balance and rhythm.
Whatever his undoing, Ndema struggles to be different. As an artist, he badly needs it. We all do.
Ndema speaks with monochromes