Most of the times, art has been presented as a very complicated topic, understood and consumed by a selected class of citizens; that class has usually been the elite that know where the galleries and sophiscated art spaces are.
This was the tone that set the ball rolling at the FREE[AK] Show Uganda that took place on Wednesday at a residence in Mbuya .
According to the curator, Robinah Nansubuga, the aim of having a show at such a place was to work the minds of artists to think outside the box, to plan for work outside the traditional galleries and audiences.
“Kampala has spaces but we need more welcoming ones, especially for people that don’t find galleries accommodating,” she said.
The show just like one of the things it was looking at addressing – started with a skit between an elite and ordinary Ugandan.
In the skit, the elite Ugandan wondered why her less privileged colleague had come to an art exhibition that was clearly out of her knowing; “Art is not for all people, it’s for the educated ones that can understand it, just like the people you see here,” she said.
The less privileged one argued that art is just art, always understood differently and shouldn’t have class discriminations.
Standing for acronyms Fresh, Real, Edgy, Equal, Art and Kombo, the FREE[AK] show featured artists Issa Ouattara, Rayka Kobiella, Reagan Kandole, Roshan Karmali and Misan Throp, but always tried to breakaway from the traditional exhibitions as known to become a freak show, for instance, the main area of the show was a swimming pool that had a dead-like human floating – he was strategically positioned that he got many guests screaming at the first glance.
The five artists exhibiting are different yet with the kind of show, they chose to collaborate and come up with work complimenting each other’s ability, for instance, Karmali is a poet, kobiella is a performance director while Kandole is an installation artist while Ouattara is a sculptor that mostly uses metallic materials.
For this exhibition, the artists did some works all by themselves and collaborated on others, but it was on a frog installation that was meant to decry the saddening situation that humans have treated the environment, the piece combines the efforts of Throp, a street artist, whose work mostly uses current newspapers as collage, and of course Ouattara, performances directed by Kobiella helped explain much of what was going on.
Ouattara’s work is special for his final touches, his finishing that leaves the joined metallic parts rather smooth on skin than rough, while Throp’s ability to create gravity on newspapers is simply amazing, some of his pieces were local papers making fun of issues in Uganda like Crane Bank woes to Donald Trump’s win, his work with media material goes under a name, LIES, an acronym for Life Is Extremely Strange.
According to Kandole, this was his first collaboration as well as the first time he was exhibiting, he says that working with other artists taught him how to listen to other ideas, accept to learn and take on views different from his.
Most of the times, this eco-artist has not been able to exhibit since many galleries think his work is all over the place.