Richard Atugonza

Born in Fort Portal, Uganda, Atugonza is a sculptor who graduated from Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art in 2019. He majored in sculpture specifically in portraiture and minors in photography and communication design. 

He previously worked as an apprentice in Lost-wax casting and as a technical officer in a furniture workshop which he left in 2020 to pursue an art residency with Silhouette in Kampala.

His current body of work encompasses a selection of portraits depicting people in his life whom he sculpts in ubiquitous materials such as sew duist, hay and charcoal found in his immediate environment to capture proportion, body movement and posture using the reverse technique. This begins with dressing his models with bandage to get the negative, after which he manipulates through clay as an ‘editing’ process to capture the figure’s expression in order to make a cast.   

Atugonza sees his practice as an extension of a recycling line, where he initially began using plastic litter found on the university premises, not because he was trying to clean the campus but because he needed cheap material to make his work as a student. This further extended to sourcing plastic from his neighbours living on the same compound and purchasing it from the recycling depot. He further experimented with other recycled materials such as sew dust, charcoal residue and dried grass to make his sculptures more durable and to create different visual and haptic experiences. 

In this making process the subject matter and materiality fuses people and environment in forms that appear brittle which, however, become durable through the transformation of the plastic through combustion. In this process the artist finds new techniques and solutions to handle the materials. Within the daily challenges the artist encounters in his life and those of others, there is a resilient character to be found in the new materials of the black matter. 

Atugonza has exhibited his work at Walls Speak at Kingdom Kampala (2019), in the group exhibition Surfaces (2019) and duo exhibition (Im)perfections (2020), both at Afriart Gallery. He has shown at Abu Dhabi Art 2020, 1-54 Art Fair London 2020, 1-54 Art Fair New York 2021 and African Galleries Now X Artsy 2021. 

Selected Press

Paul Laster for Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art: Highlights from African Galleries Now 2021.

Artsy: Curated Highlights: Catherine Sarr's Selection from 1-54 New York. 2021

Wabwire Joseph Ian for Artsy: 15 African Artists on the Rise. 2020.

Malobi Olele for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: Richard Atugonza’s New Sculpture Celebrates Body Flaws. 2020.

1994 -
Nationality: Ugandan
Residence: Uganda