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Mixed night at Kampala art auction

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Peter Genza’s piece titled `Pumpkin II 2016’ was the big winner at the Second Kampala Art Auction on an otherwise grey Oct.14 night for the 35 local and international artists gathered at the Kampala Serena International Conference Centre, writes Ronny Kahuma.

This was Uganda’s second major auction of modern and contemporary art and it attracted 35 local and international artists who displayed 56 artworks made of a wide range of genres that included photography, weavings, sculptures, paper collages and paintings.

By 8pm, as guests sipped cocktails and nibbled on snacks inside the centre’s Katonga Hall, several artists could be seen at the back of the room, keenly following the action.

Among them was celebrated water paint artist Taga Nuwagaba who presented two artworks; `Kisenyi’ and `Naguru Summit’, paintings of Kampala suburbs that caught the attention on many guests.

Emmanuel Lwanga, a sculptor, displayed three artworks titled `Siblings’, `My country’ and `Girl on the road’. The sculptures were made of terracotta with black and gold dark colour embedment that made them look like bronze sculptures. It was a rare media style in the modern contemporary art.

There were also several acrylics on canvas paintings that drews attention such as `Nude party’ by Ethiopian artist Nega Yilma, the `Pamoja III’ and `Handmade’ by Muwonge Kyazze of Uganda, and `The long wait’ by Stephen Gwoktcho.

“Go, go, gone”. That is how Peter Mabingo, the auctioneer, as he sold the first piece titled `The Street Journey I 2015’ by Christian Tundula for “Go, Go, Shs1,190,000. It is a series focusing on street children whom Tundula works with in Uganda’s capital Kampala and Kinshasa; his city of birth.

Tundula creates stories by combining many photographs taken in different locations.

Thereafter `The Succubus’, an acrylics on canvas piece by Gillian Stacey was bought for Shs2,680,000. It expresses a point in which female sexual aggression is isolated, demonised and associated with negative spirituality. It places the woman on the blurry line between full sexual expression and concealment for culture’s sake.

At the end, it was Genza’s 136 x86 cm `Pumpkin II 2016’ that was the winner at an event that lasted slightly over an hour and a half.

It is an oil-on-canvas piece done in Uganda’s national colours fading into almost indistinguishable hues in a satirical presentation of disillusionment with the “good cop/bad cop” idea. Its dominant colour is red for danger and its focus the pumpkin figure with a phallic metaphor and Christian religious backdrop. It sold for Shs5,100,000.

Also sold was ` The Last Bullet’ by Moses Nyawanda for Shs960,000 by Moses Nyawanda from Kenya and a mixed media piece titled `The Oasis 2016’ by Sheila Nakitende that sold for  Shs1,870,000.

Two online buyers bought `The Daily Struggle 2016’ by painter and illustrator Deng MajidChol from South Sudan for Shs2,380,000 and `Triplets 2016’ by Gilbert Musinguzi of Uganda that went for Shs1,700,000.

Violet Nantume, the curator and organiser of the Kampala Art Auction (KAA -2016), says this year’s floor sales have not been as robust as they were last year.

She said it was partly because the bidders were different and the month for the auction was also different. The inaugural edition had 49 artists and displayed 80 artworks.

By end of auction, seven artworks (including online bids) were sold compared to last year’s 26.

Natume’s says the artworks on display this year were visually much stronger than last year’s based on the participating artists originating from Uganda, Sudan, D R Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Belgium, and Turkey. About 150 guests attended.

Nantume is excited that many Kampalans attended to the auction which aims at serving as a platform to highlight the growing profile of Uganda and the region’s art and artists. She sees feature auctions fostering a deeper appreciation of the inherent value of art.

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