Indepth Arts News: |
"David Kibuuka: EAST AFRICA'S MODERN ART MOVEMENT"
2000-02-25 until 2000-03-31
THE ART ROOM
San Francisco, CA,
USA United States of America
Featured at San Francisco's newly opened Fine Arts center for East Africa, THE ART ROOM, this inaugural presentation
entitled EAST AFRICA'S MODERN ART MOVEMENT highlights original works by two leading members of this fine art
movement, David Kibuuka, currently residing in Canada, and James Kitamirike, a San Francisco resident.
While traditional masks and sculpture have been studied and collected
for centuries, since the 1930's world-class works of contemporary fine art
have developed among members of East Africa's celebrated Ugandan
School. While East African modern painting has been collected
throughout Europe for decades, this exhibit marks its arrival in the Bay
Area. Stylistic innovation combines with technical mastery yielding works
of striking depth and power--exploring diverse origins and revealing new
directions taken by leading members of this fine art movement.
Newly opened, THE ART ROOM establishes a center for East African fine
painting in the Bay Area. Important original works by leading Ugandan
artists James Kitamirike and David Kibuuka, among others, are exhibited
With rock walls serving as their canvas, prehistoric artists drew upon
Africa's vibrant surroundings for their subject matter to create the world's
oldest cave paintings---mankind's earliest surviving art form. Later
settlement and cultural development across vast and varied landscapes
has endowed the continent with a rich and diverse artistic heritage which
continues to evolve. While many of these artistic traditions can be found incorporated into utilitarian items such as
masks, mats, baskets, and textiles, recent reconnections with Africa's historical roots in fine painting are yielding
surprising and original expressions of this most ancient art form.
East Africa's modern art movement began with the founding of the School of Fine Art at Makerere University in 1936 by
art historian and chief instructor, Margaret Trowell, a native of the United Kingdom. Located in Uganda's capital city of
Kampala, this recognized and acclaimed school has provided resources, guidance, and inspiration for generations of
aspiring East African artists. Trowell infused talented local students with her appreciation for the work of both classic
and modern European masters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Dali, among others.
Among her noted students, Mugalula Mukiibi, Tereza Musoke, Elly Kyeyune, and Henry Lumu demonstrated exceptional
brilliance and originality.
Emerging East African modernism
The combined ingredients of dedicated instructors, enthusiastic students, and creative freedoms resulted in a
blossoming of artistic innovation and excellence in a process not unlike the European Renaissance. Kampala's
flourishing art community attracted buyers from Europe, leading some of the more successful artists to open their own
galleries and studios to the public.
During this time, a distinctive Ugandan school emerged which was
characterized by typical African scenery and figurative themes captured
with imaginative blends of both classical and modern influences. Works
by these artists would usually harmonize two or more distinct
styles---realism, abstraction, cubism, impressionism, surrealism,
etc.---using vibrant local colors and imagery. The result was technically
advanced work with striking originality, often highlighting subject matter
having historical as well as cultural significance.
The movement expands
While many in Uganda's growing art community chose to remain there,
increasing political unrest during the 1970s forced others to migrate to
other parts of the world. Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya,
became a focal point where much of this transplanted talent began to
collaborate, selling work through local galleries and participating in
museum exhibits. During this time, celebrated Ugandan national artist
the late Henry Lumu and his younger brother David Kibuuka met James
Kitamirike. Working among fellow Ugandan artists such as Dan
Sakanwagi, Joseph Mungaya, Jack Katarikawe and others, they brought
their unique art to Kenya's thriving art scene, gaining international
collectors and recognition.