Home Magazine Issues Kampala Art Scene (Part 2): Go to Our Galleries!

Kampala Art Scene (Part 2): Go to Our Galleries!

By Abigail Bartels

What is art but a way of seeing? Thomas Berger

Whether or not you are on the pursuit of buying art, it is part of a holistic life to view and value art, to commit to seeing the world anew. But it is also important to be part of a community that values the “artist” function in a society. As members of this Kampala community, we can appreciate and learn from the talents and perspectives that our artists are presenting—some political, some aesthetic, some spiritual, some cultural, all of them a unique manifestation of the artist’s “way of seeing”.

For actual viewing of arts, the gallery is still my preferred method because as a viewer I can take in the texture, color, dimension, and relationship to other pieces of the artist. Often an artist is working out an idea or a technique in a series of paintings, and within the gallery context I like to see the development or process of the artist.

For this article, I met with Daudi Kirungi, an artist, the owner of AfriArt, a member of Kampala Arts Trust, the initiator of START–an online arts journal, and a committed member of the Kampala arts scene for the sake of individual artists but even more for the sake of the art industry—creating a local culture that values art for arts sake. Daudi is himself an artist but for this article I want to highlight his commitment to the growth of an art culture in Uganda.

My conversation with Daudi reaffirmed what I’ve been feeling for some time, especially regarding arts in Uganda. We, as artists and art appreciators, need to value our galleries—trusting the curators to help assign value to the art works of our artists. Some artists and buyers feel that they don’t want to “lose” money to gallery middlemen—but the gallery in this context is not squeezing the lifeblood from the artist or buyers, it is one of our primary resources for helping establish Ugandan art, both in the country and outside the country. Galleries are also an important means of accountability and conversation for the artist community. While there can be a meaningful connection to buying a piece of art from the artist, without a gallery context the prices and merits of local artists become a more arbitrary negotiation and the art culture and art industry are sacrificed. “It ultimately boils down to a certain individualism (of the artist and the buyer) at the cost of the art industry, the collective artist presence and power in a community,” Daudi shared with me.

But without further ado, let me direct you to three galleries that I think are trying to move African fine arts further:

1. AfriArt Gallery: Kenneth Dale Drive (off Kira Road) Bukoto
Phone: 04144357455
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9-6pm
Exhibition in April: Edison Mugalu
Exhibition in May: Herbert Kalule; Abudala and Muhamed (Sudanese)

2. Makerere Art Gallery@Margaret Trowell School of Art and Design
Phone: 0414531423
Facebook Makartgallery Kampala (for latest information)
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9-5pm
April/May 2011, Art works from the Gallery Collection
May/June 2011, Asaph Batekereza (to be confirmed)

3. Gallery at Tulifanya:
28, Hannington Road, opposite Crested Towers
Phone: 0774164489
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10-5pm, Saturday 10-4pm
Exhibition in April: Donald Wasswa
Exhibition in May: Ismael Kateregga

With the growing relevance of internet and social media, it is worth perusing some internet sites as well—both for viewing art but also for keeping up with what the art community is doing and what art events are happening.

Online Resources:

1. www.startjournal.org
2. www.africancolours.com
3. www.kampalarts.com
4. www.ugpulse.com
5. www.afriartgallery.org
6. www.tulifanyagallery.com

So, get out there and learn about Uganda’s fine art scene; go to the galleries, meet some artists, talk art, buy art, commit to adding to your quality of life and to the quality of life of your Kampala community!

The Author: Abigail Bartels, Email: abigailgbartels@gmail.com