Charlene Komuntale is a digital artist and illustrator based in Kampala, Uganda. In her recent series “Not Fragile”, Komuntale portrays women - mostly black African women. The subject matter is personal yet presented in a relatable way as inspiration is drawn from her own experiences but also informed by the experiences of other women around her.
The heads of the women she portrays are covered by different elements, which create poetic yet striking narratives around a broadly relatable figure. At first sight, the works evoke a dreamy, peaceful, and quiet atmosphere, whereas at a closer look powerful, empowering and unapologetic messages come to the fore. Dominant, male-centered perspectives on women’s roles and supposedly nature-given capabilities and constraints attached to female bodies are being evaluated and re-examined. The juxtaposition of different elements creates an interesting asymmetry between awareness of self and the (male-centered) gaze of others. Intimacy, tenderness, vulnerability, and female beauty do not suggest fragility. Instead, it is related to strength and unapologetic confidence. Komuntale’s digital paintings deconstruct patriarchal narratives as shaped by culture, religion, and politics and provide a ground for inquiry and interrogation, and for visions of different futures.
Her compositional choices create a space at the edges of reality – moments frozen in time and filled with surreal elements and metaphorical and symbolical references.
From March to June 2021 Komuntale attended the Silhouette Projects Residency Program, and from January to February 2023, she was an artist-in-residence at The Mill in Adelaide, Australia. In 2023, she held her debut solo exhibition Sit with Me - The Diary of a Free Thinker at Afriart Gallery. Her work was shown in the group exhibitions Where the Wild Things are (Afriart Gallery, 2022), Eastern Voices: Contemporary Art from East Africa (Addis Fine Art, London, 2023), Shapes of Water (Afriart Gallery, 2023), and in Sanaa Exhibition (The Mill, Adelaide, Australia, 2023). She has participated in EXPO Chicago, African Galleries Now X Artsy, Abu Dhabi Art, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, FNB Art Joburg, and 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair London. She holds a BA in Animation from Limkokwing University, Malaysia.