Born 1991 in the Western Ugandan town of Fort Portal, Switzin Twikirize currently resides in Kampala. Twikirize’s paintings are evocative reflections of Ugandan people, their cultures, and environments through his eyes. He employs bright colours and dark tones so that every piece he does delicately exudes both the vibrancy and gloom that characterize life within the artist's immediate environment. Through their posture, movement and expressions, his subjects tell poignant stories of Uganda’s beauty, sense of community, struggles, celebrations, triumphs and disappointments.
His current body of work interrogates notions of community. Drawn towards this theme during the pandemic where lack of community was felt by many around the world, this personal experience led him to dive deeper into how ideas of community have changed in recent (Pan-African) history:
“When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon”, Chinua Achebe writes in his classic Things Fall Apart in 1958, “Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”
What the artist has experienced during lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions recently, has in some way or another, been experiences by African people since the early days of colonialism; a gradual shift from communal to individualist societies. Old systems and general structures on which societies had been built eroded and left gaps of power, support, authority, education, among others. On a micro level, this reflects in both Twikirize’s and many other young Africans’ experiences of moving from the countryside, where communal systems are still stronger, to the city in early adulthood. Looking back to a childhood spent within a close-knit community, nostalgia and romanticism bring in yet another layer of interrogation.
Twikirize’s work ultimately captures and preserves the feeling of being human in Uganda – being human through interaction and relation with others.
The artist has previously held graphic design and Art Director positions in various leading Ugandan advertising agencies. He holds a B.A. in Industrial and Fine Art from Makerere University, with a major in design communication and minors in sculpture and industrial ceramics.