Daniel Atenyi is a Ugandan artist born in Jinja, Uganda, in 1997. Since 2020, he has been developing his practice in which charcoal powder serves as his main medium. More recently, he began combining it with pastel powder and other natural powdered materials like turmeric and terracotta.
Using self-made smudging techniques, he pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved with charcoal. With this simple yet potent tool, he creates sharp contrasts and powerful and mysterious images. His fusion of realistic figurative representation and dream-like abstractions brings about compositions that convey a sense of drama and intensity.
Atenyi’s work is a deeply personal exploration of human emotional experiences, self-absorption, and healing. It represents a ceaseless search of wholeness and totality in a world of impermanence. By omitting facial features, he removes the focus on individual identity and instead emphasizes universal human experiences. He captures the subtle nuance of emotions that are often left unspoken and overlooked.
“Through the use of both realism and surrealist abstraction, my art seeks to blur the lines between the conscious and subconscious mind, the physical and spiritual realm, and the inner and outer world. My aim is to create a visual language that provokes introspection and encourages the viewer to explore the hidden depths of their own psyche. Each piece tells a unique story that invites the viewer to feel and reflect on their own emotions, experiences, and perceptions.
Ultimately, it is through the absence of facial features that I seek to create unity, as my work becomes an open invitation for others to better understand both themselves and the world around them.”
– Daniel Atenyi, 2023