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ARTS: Top five artists of 2018

Kampala, Uganda | DOMINIC MUWANGUZI | Musinguzi Gilbert – A youthful budding artist who graduated from Kyambogo University in 2014, invited unprecedented attention to his work at the Kampala Art Biennale 2018 with his colossal ephemeral  artwork `Invasion’ that interrogates  the subject of migration to new territory and its obvious impact to that locale.

The soft spoken artist’s work can be described as communal, intuitive, and engaging, and inspiring an authentic narrative on the theme of experimentation and creativity.  His recent body of work, as part of his artist residence at 32°East, is an inspiration from the local community of Kasokosoko; a Kampala city suburb for poor urbanites. As such, his art is a social-political commentary on issues that affect the community he lives in.

Stacey Abe Gillian      

Stacey Gillian’s name has been making headlines on the continent’s art scene since her ground-breaking performance `Enya Sa’ performed in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. Since then, the lanky and mostly soft-spoken artist who works in multi-media like ceramics, glass, light photography and texture, has gone on to install her art ( performance art) at major art festivals across the globe. In 2017, she performed Seat of Honour and later Pareidolia that left art critics across the world enthralled with her unique style. Her work has been described as a highlight of the strengths and fragility of the female mind and often critiquing the stereotypes faced by black women in contemporary society.

Her receipt of the 2018 ABSA L’atelier first merit award and now honouree of the ‘Forbes Africa 30 under 30’ has undoubtedly propelled her career to new heights.   She remains a reserved and sincere character with a focus to inspire young women in the industry to exploit their art to explore their identity, gender, and spirituality.

Arim Andrew

His debut solo exhibition `A Portrait of Power, Authority and Control’ in September at Afriart on 7th got everyone on the local art scene talking: predicting that Arim was the next big item on the Kampala contemporary art scene.  In the exhibit, the artist showcased a masterly in studio dexterity and innovation with fictional and realistic characters juxtaposed.  His artistic process that includes layering his paintings with innumerable colours -portraiture -and adopting comic characters in his work, while navigating serious themes of power and control, suggests a cheeky feel in his work. This obviously makes it palatable to larger audiences without necessarily being propagandist.

Though it was easy to impress with his first solo exhibit, the young artist is not resting on his laurels.  He is researching on new materials for his next body of work that is still inspired by his love for comics. The artist shows there’s no limit in creating art from sci-fictional material.

Ismael Kateregga

Kateregga made headlines this year with a successful auction of his work `Buikwe Fishing Boats’ at the Bonhams Auction House, London.  That feat alone got the impressionistic artist, whose style is subtle forms with controlled light on canvas, a standing ovation from several art managers and critics from the region.

That accomplishment echoes the benefits of studio ingenuity the artist is so skilled in and continues to be an enduring character of his artistic practice. As such, Kateregga offers inspiration to young artists to be consistent, creative, and authentic in their art.

Ocom Adonias

`Who’s your Saint’ is a series of work that has got Ocom’s name on everyone’s lips this year. The artwork is an inspiration from societal prejudices where sainthood or esteemed character in the context of the exhibition, is attached to someone who is socially privileged in society. Ocom thinks otherwise in this exhibit and goes on to confer halos on unusual suspects like food vendors, nubile women and political villains like Benjamin Netanyahu. His work is satirical; giving a subtle narrative on complex subjects of immigration, consumerism and neo-colonialism.

The artist’s ability to interrogate such widespread social- political inequality in our society through figurative imagery makes him and his work enviable to larger publics. As such, Ocom has this year featured   in the FnB Johannesburg Art Fair, participated in the L’atelier competition and showcased at the Kampala Art Biennale 2018.

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