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ARTS: Capturing rainbows

How Ugandan artist scooped international Cannon camera advert deal

Kampala, Uganda | DOMINIC MUWANGUZI | In a one minute video, artist Jjuuko Hoods is portrayed as a child prodigy with a fascination for colours. With crayons in hand, he leans next to an adult who probably is his instructor with a keen interest to learn how to work with different colours in order to create masterpieces of art. In the next clip, he’s shown as an adult painting in his studio and later emerges outside the workspace with a sketchpad and digital camera ready to take portraits of children immersed in a rainbow of colours. The video themed `Capturing his Rainbow’ ends as he rides on the back of a boda-boda with smoke in rainbow colours surrounding him.

The video, an advert of one of latest models of Cannon camera cost a whopping $12,000 (Approx. Shs44 billion) to shoot on location in Uganda, and enlisted over five million likes and views on the internet when it was posted on Youtube in the first week of September 2017.

In fact, locally, his contemporaries have swarmed him with praises for such an unprecedented marketing partnership. Jjuuko is the first artist from the African continent to be used solely to promote an international brand like Cannon. The Cannon camera is a favourite brand for many photographers and artists globally because of its high performance in capturing images and turning them into masterpieces. Jjuuko, a Ugandan artist occasionally uses the high definition camera to capture those rare moments that illuminate his canvases. This particular brand will set you back by a staggering price of $35,000.

“It is an added opportunity to promote my art world-wide,” says the art honcho who in real life is inspired by the subject of colour.

Jjuuko’s art is more about colouring with a dominant application of bright hues to illustrate the vibrant and energetic landscape he captures in his drawings. He variously paints the wild savannah of his motherland Uganda; capturing the wild animals like the lion, buffalo, mountain gorillas and antelope with such realism and bold acrylics resulting into awesome textures; the city landscape with Matatus (mini-buses) jostling for passengers and snaking through the winding Kampala traffic jam, and the rural children with their glowing innocent smiles in spite of the striking poverty and mundane lifestyle typical of a rural setting in Africa. It was the latter composition in his paintings that secured him an exhibition at Kfw office in Kampala in 2015. The exhibit with a theme of sustainable rural community development showcased children of northern Uganda with feisty smiles going about their routine chores. The warm smiles symbolised the hope and promise these young people had in their community after years of wars.

Added to his being a colourist, is Jjuuko’s neo-expressionist’s knack to transform everyday situations into works of genius that sets him apart from other artists.

He paints children with an intense passion and clarity that arrest the viewer immediately by their masterly and skill. His wildlife straightaway transports you into the African jungle with its rugged setting, yet unrivaled serenity. It is such elements that are evident in the video-advert: a combination of artistic skills on display in the studio, creative usage of camera to capture that unusual moment, interactive moments with the children in order to produce a realistic expression of the subject matter to the audience and adopting a localised mode of transport- the boda-boda that symbolises Uganda.

Although Jjuuko is no stranger to success, this video advert has further jet-propelled his career creating a milestone for him both within the local and international art arena. More so, this unprecedented achievement is an inspiration for other companies, especially in the creative industry, to work with artists in order to market their respective innovative ideas.

Jjuuko is a first class art graduate from Kampala University and his art is exhibited and can be found at Karibu Art gallery along Bukoto-Kisaasi Road, Afriart gallery and Asante gallery, Kamwokya along New Kira Road and Umoja gallery in Kamwokya.

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