February 16, 2024 - February 18, 2024
Afriart Gallery will present four artists from East Africa at the 2024 edition of INVESTEC Cape Town Art Fair: Richard Atugonza (Uganda, *1994 ), April Kamunde (Kenya, *1988), Daniel Atenyi (Uganda, *1997), and Charlene Komuntale (Uganda, *1991).
Atugonza is a sculptor whose current body of work encompasses a selection of portraits depicting people in his life whom he sculpts in ubiquitous materials such as sawdust, dried grass, and charcoal – all of them being waste materials found within his environment. He captures proportion, body movement, and posture using the reverse technique. In this making process, the subject matter and materiality fuse people and environment in forms that appear brittle which, however, become durable through the transformation of the material.
Kamunde works primarily in oils creating paintings that tell intimate and personal stories. Through soft and delicate brush strokes, her subjects, placed into a natural, lush environment, radiate a gentle and natural presence. While often working from an autobiographical origin, her work leans into shared experiences, making it relatable across audiences and intending to explore and ignite conversations. Her recent body of work explores meanings of rest and the pursuit of it, from a personal and feminist angle.
In Atenyi’s practice 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.
Komuntale recent series of digital paintings – “Not Fragile” – portrays black African women. 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.