November 02, 2023 - November 05, 2023
At Art X Lagos 2023, Afriart Gallery presents a duo of two artists from East Africa: Mona Taha (Kampala, Uganda) and April Kamunde (Nairobi, Kenya).
Taha and Kamunde represent a generation of women artists who have developed and consolidated a practice rooted in their individual experiences of living and working on the continent. Stemming from autobiographical explorations, their practice sensibly and poetically explores the lived realities, challenges and victories they and their peers in their respective communities pass through. In both artists’ work, an individually shaped feminist perspective is a key component. Through this perspective, not only themes concerning their female peers, but broader societal questions affecting all genders are being offered to the viewer to engage with.
As she plays around with different forms and scenarios, Mona Taha uses the idea of leaping as a reference of progress, freedom, self-fulfillment. Exploring the body, its motions and gestures to provide meaning and interpretation to her drawings, she looks at the character of Pearl Primus (1919 – 1994), who was an African-American dancer, choreographer and anthropologist.
“While being interested in the journey of black women through history, I was intrigued by the character and story of Pearl Primus and decided to use her character in my work. She was a black woman from the early 20th century; this wasn’t a time for black women to excel in whatever field they were in. She used dance to express herself, talking about being oppressed as a woman and as a black woman. She used dance trying to learn about her African roots and to bring that knowledge back. In these works, I play around with collage, inks and natural dye from tea. I upcycle pieces from Garden Tea bags, a Ugandan brand. The works represent a leap of defiance, resistance and strength but also a story of the victory to overcome internalised beliefs about the black female body and mind. Using collage and water colour, I wanted to create memory of labour and glory. Through the variation in collage, I hope to show the inner turmoil of transition.” – Mona Taha
April Kamunde’s recent body of work explores meanings of rest and the pursuit of it, from a personal and feminist angle. The work is driven by personal reflection and response to feelings of weariness triggered by her recent experiences of the pandemic, a rapidly changing world and the endeavor to live a successful and fulfilling life in fast-paced Nairobi, one of Africa’s megacities.
“I invite the audience to peer into the moments of pause and introspection being experienced by the women featured in the work. I explore what it looks like to choose one’s self, to take up space, to slow down and unburden one’s self in today’s demanding world.” - April Kamunde