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When picking up art pieces is a bold move

At Ronex’s Memories and… exhibit

Kampala, Uganda | DOMINIC MUWANGUZI | In Ronex Ahimbisimbwe’s ongoing exhibit, `Memories and…’, he picks some of his old works, spanning over 15 years, and reworks them into new art. The resulting large tapestries of collage, therefore, show familiar techniques and motifs that the audience easily associates with Ronex. But they are presented in a different format.

The composition of monochromic and bright coloured patches of paintings stitched together would ordinarily be seen as worthless. But the technical dexterity, nuance, and critical perspective in the salvaged artwork exude something unusual. His deployment of recurring human figures in the tapestry creates a figurative narrative that runs through the work and acts as intriguing entry points into the art.

The conceptual sculptures hanging alongside the assemblages evoke the idea of both experimentation and the power of the subconscious. Built of insatiable imagination, the large-scale wall hangings composed of hard paper, aluminum plates and bolts conjure up concepts of the nature of the human mind that is responsible for the creative processes we see. Besides their form and depth that stimulate the idea of sculpture formation, the artwork fascinates with its use of inexpensive material to create art. The materials used are mostly collected from Ronex’s loe end neighbourhood of Makerere Kikoni where many motor garages filled with discarded metal abound.

Ronex is increasingly taking stock of his past, the years since he graduated from art school in 2002, and using it as a platform for innovations.

In an earlier exhibit, `Constructs 2016’, he again delved into previous works and tweaked them with touches of technical innovation.

Ronex is bold when he picks up a pair of scissors and cuts his old paintings. He is innovative when he picks up the pieces and stitches them to create a new artwork. Not many people can take something they treasure and rework it into a new thing they are not quite sure about. The desire to recycle is not powerful enough of a driver.

But Ronex says he is fascinated by the idea, at once, of rejection and love of an artwork. It is a carryover of his affinity for contrast or contradiction in his art. His art often tackles contrasts in relationships; between beauty and ugly, naivety and sophistication, and simplicity and complexity. This could be a metaphor of consistence verses inconsistence in his art and he does not mind the tag.

“I am always blamed for being inconsistent as an artist. Maybe by being inconsistent I am consistent,” he says.

Ronex’s art is a symbol of an artist who has refused to succumb to the stereotype that an artist should produce art to sell. The work in the show is experimental, meaning; it is not primarily commercial but to invite visual inquiry and dialogue on the art. It is another bold statement from an artist who says he was nurtured to think that art was only limited to cultural objects. He has since evolved in perception and technique, and it is difficult to predict what Ronex will be up after this exhibit.

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Memories and…is now showing at Afriart gallery Kamwokya, located on Kennethdale Drive, old Kira Road.

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