Sane’s political satirist legacy lives on
| Dominic Muwanguzi | Eria Sane Nsubuga likes to invoke academic critiques and studies in his art to inspire dialogue on contemporary themes. He juxtaposes artistic parody, in form of satire and sarcasm, to create comic twists to hard topics like capitalism, immigration and neo-colonialism. It is a traditional approach evident in his recent exploratory body of work titled `Creases and Tears: Transcending borders and identities’. This was inspired by academic writer Gatayri Chakravorty Spivak’s much acclaimed essay titled, `Can the Subaltern Speak?’ which dwells on the historical and ideological factors that obstruct the possibility of being heard for inhabitants of the periphery.
Its eloquence provides inspiration for Sane who interrogates modern day evils that are fought against by the same nations that propagate them.
The showcase of satirist portraiture of some of the world political figures like Theresa May, British Prime minister and Queen Elizabeth and Donald Trump builds conversation on the ongoing political drama in the west, specifically in the context of migration, immigration, capitalism and neo-colonialism.
The artist integrates these with images of familiar local politicians like President Yoweri Museveni and himself (Eria Sane Nsubuga) to stir local relevance on the topic he’s navigating. This technique is a duplication of his previous style of deploying such influential political and social characters in his work as a platform to trigger familiarity and debate in his art. In `Abaneene 2014’, the artist used characters like President Museveni, KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi and Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago to discuss politics, power, and authority in Uganda. Similarly, `Blackface, White Masks 2015’, inspired by the philosophy of Frantz Fanon, had some portraiture of the then U.S. President, Barack Obama and socialite Angelina Jolie as metaphors of western imperialism and global culture respectively.
In the ongoing exhibit, the artist consistently draws a series of white faces with one big eye planted on the forehead! The eye has a bright wide stare as if daring the viewer. This startling image seems to represent figuratively the overwhelming authority and power of the west, imposed on the black continent and its citizens. The image is drawn from the philosophy of the big-brother syndrome that suggests the controlling nature of super –power nations on the black continent. In the Christian setting- the artist is a self-confessed Christian- such figurative imagery can be hinged to the biblical teaching that asserts the mighty power and authority of God: he’s omnipresent and omnipotent. A white man to possess such attribute means replicating the power of the almighty by a single individual or group of people that leads to exploitation of humanity!
Another series of drawings touches on the subject of homosexuality which is a sensitive topic on the continent but a powerful political-social tool in the west. Sane’s recurring astonishing drawings of the female genital replacing the mouth or playing dual purposes, suggests the exploitative nature of the west often perpetuated by greed on both sides of the continent. Similarly, the artist invokes the mythical narrative of the “big black penis envy” that was commonly used on slaves during the mid-19th century. It was used to de-humanise black people.
The technique of using old newspapers and magazines ripped apart to create collage for his art, in the context of this exhibition, is synonymous with loss, anger or mourning. Sane uses this exhibit to show his despondency at the rampant inequality and exploitation meted on the black race. He conjures themes like homosexuality, discrimination and corruption that impede the progress of the black race.
The exhibition is showing now at Afriart gallery in Kamwokya located on Kennethdale Drive.
Eria Sane Nsubuga is currently a PhD student at Southhampton University, England