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ARTS: Painting metaphors of life

Sudanese artist shows off transparent canvases at AKA gallery

|Dominic Muwanguzi| Ahmed Abushariaa defines his paintings as a figurative interpretation of his Arabic background in Sudan and a metaphor of the everyday things and events that surround him. For metaphorical representation, Abushariaa paints abstract images of Arabic landscapes that include boxy settlements, veiled women (women wearing hijabs), and the Islamic primary symbol of a moon and star. These are dominant objects in his paintings that are usually washed in a bright palette of yellows, greens and blues.

This composition is echoed in his latest showcase of most recent artwork in watercolour and ink. Both media are popular with the artist. He often applies them on cotton paper to illustrate and interrogate the idea of transparency and fantasy. In this exhibition, the artist employs predominantly the abstract style on canvas evoking the concept of flowers blossoming that pervade his paintings. The concept, is nonetheless, an allusion to the political landscape in Sudan; a country that is still struggling to find peace and stability.

Abushariaa’s abstract style is employed to emphasise his concentration on technique and concept rather than message in this exhibit.

To support this argument, the application of ink and watercolour is used to facilitate his interrogation of the subject of transparency on canvas. The outcome of such cross-examination is a fascinating painting with characteristics of serenity and calmness. Such attributes are complimented with the application of a warm palette that includes green, yellow, red and blue.

This tendency resonates with the paintings of Arnold Birungi another watercolourist exhibiting with Abushariaa. Unlike the abstract showcase of the former artist, Birungi’s realistic paintings are evocative of his cultural background of South Western Uganda. Hence, he paints the rural scenery that includes women going or returning from the garden, preparing the next meal, and in the field cattle herding.  The woman is a central character in his paintings that suggests her role as a backbone to the family, and perhaps also as a symbol of empowerment to the rural woman.

Like his contemporary in the exhibit, Birungi’s paintings suggest an element of serenity and calmness that is juxtaposed with the rural setting which is devoid of the routine bustling activities.  On the other hand, the artist’s work does not only mirror his mild character, but also his studio skills in picture construction and colouring. Nevertheless, the artist’s decision in this exhibit to concentrate on his familiar subject of the rural setting illustrates an artist who has finally found his niche and is not inclined to shift to new territory.

These artists are not comfortable in their artistic zone, but are continuously discovering new inspirations and techniques to present in their art and message.  Abushariaa’s mixed media paintings illustrate an artist who is inspired by both experimenting with diverse media while conveying the message of his cultural identity. Conversely, Birungi’s realistic paintings remind the public of the importance of preserving their cultural values while provoking the question of the role of the woman in post-modern society.

The exhibition opened on Aug. 05 and will be showing for one month at AKA gallery, located on Bukoto Street next to the Goethe Zentrum Office.


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