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Narratives of body and shape

body art

The human figure continues to fascinate modern and contemporary artists. Many are gripped by its deployment as an aesthetic or conceptual symbol that evokes different forms of visual narratives in their work, writes Dominic Muwanguzi.

For Khalid Kodi it is an important topic that warrants a standalone exhibition that he has titled `Narratives of Body and Shape’ at the Makerere Art Gallery manifests.

Khalid Kodi, a Sudanese artist lecturing at Boston University USA, has a series of the human figure done in water color paintings and textured in bright colors along rhythmic patterns designed to evoked well-known aspects of traditional storytelling. The images have a soothing effect on the viewer. It is his style. He often embeds them in series of paintings, installations, and sculptures.

He says beyond the traditional storytelling aspect mirroring his personal appreciation of his African traditional heritage, it emphasises the relationship between the traditional and contemporary in the contemporary arts today.

Visiting artist Khalid Kodi uses the human form to talk about war, racism, multi-culturalism

His painting on (cotton) paper evokes the element of experimentation in the context of color application or color psychology. It seems like the artist takes long hours studying the effect of each color as he applies it on “canvas” to realise a particular sensation among his audience.

His other body of work on show suggests he has a deeper conceptual message. The series of shapes layered with Arabic graphic design tell the story of his relationship with his cultural heritage (Islam) and how this culture can be used to mediate political anarchy that riddles his homeland, Sudan. The technique of employing a monochrome palette in the drawings gives them an introspective quality common in the series of work.

Kodi is a cultural and political activist. It is, therefore, expected that his work will be no different to his other work on social justice and war victims in Sudan. It is his belief that art can be a vehicle for social change   through engagement of the public and stakeholders.

The subjects in `Narrative of Body and Shape’ can be viewed as metaphors and contributions to the global discourse on how artists can address issues like war, racism, and as an African artist living in the Diaspora, the artist stimulates dialogue among his audience on the subject of multi-culturalism in this era of globalisation.

Kodi is an adjunct professor of fine arts at Boston College and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In addition, he is a resident artist in the African-American Master Artists in Residence Program (AAMARP), a program in the Department of African-American Studies at Northeastern University. Kodi was a 2013 summer faculty member and artist-in-residence at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.  He also taught at Brown University.

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