Saturday, October 15, 2016

Made in Uganda Bronze Sculptures Show

There is a fine, little, unpretentious show of bronze sculptures you must go and see if you are interested in the arts at the Uganda Museum.

The sculptures on show are by David Bwambale, Emmanuel Basaza, Eria Sane Nsubuga, Jon Buck, Peter Oloya, Isaac Okwir. I have never heard of them but a few pieces stand out that I will keenly follow their future work.

Isaac Okwir has a style all of his own that once you look at one sculpture, you will almost always be able to identify his work even if it is not labelled. He slaps together pieces of bronze to create his sculptures the way a painter dashes paint slabs on a canvas. Almost in a fury or from too much passion. There is a lot of emotion here. Unchecked emotion that the sculptures should be ugly. They are not.

His Lango Mama is a delicate tribute to motherhood, inspired no doubt by a familiar rustic scene of a woman with a child on her back. What makes the piece stand out for this art lover are the observed maternal touches: her head is turned away from our gaze in concern that the child on her back should be adequately shaded. In turning, she stands with one hip cocked. Forcing you to come closer to see this baby who has all her attention.

Jon Buck's The Clansman immediately reminds me, at least, of that memorable Christopher Okigbo portrait on Dr Ali Mazrui's grief memoir The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. Why does it do that? This sculpture has as much presence as that photograph of one of Africa's most revered poets. All superfluities shorn away, the essence of the man left. To see that sculpture alone is worth the trip to the Uganda Museum.

Nothing else Buck has on display matches the stunning power of that sculpture. But what a sculpture!

There are little takeaways from the show too. Art you can carry with you everywhere in form of key rings by David Bwambale. Bwambale's key rings are inspired by clan totems like the Pangolin and the monkey. He also has paper weights in the show.

Speaking about his work, Bwambale explains, "The paper weights represent the big five famous animals we have in the country and other animals people love a lot. These include the elephant, the rhino, the cheetah and the warthog."

Although the choice of what the sculptures will represent is based on consumer demand, Bwambale says the artists are also concerned to educate their audience that some of the animals are endangered. Hence the proliferation of animals like the pangolin throughout the show.

The exhibitors all work under the Ruwenzori Sculpture Foundation. This Kasese foundry has an interesting story all of its own we hope to share soon.

But for now, you can go any day of the week 10am to 5pm, free entry, to the Uganda Museum to see these sculptures yourself. But hurry. The show closes October 19. It opened October 11.

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