This is a duo exhibition by the artists who have just completed their stay in the new residency program at Afriart gallery, the Silhouette projects. The two artists Odur Ronald and Atugonza Richard are showing what they have accomplished during their time at Afriart. The exhibition concept is that perfection is an illusion and that these artists have transcended the chase for perfection and they have accepted imperfection, birthing beauty out of it.
The curator alludes to the ‘’wabi sabi’’ philosophy of the Buddhists that calls for the appreciation of all that is imperfect and impermanent. Entering I was excited to see Atugonza’s work since his had been plastered all over Silhouette’s social media and after seeing his process I liked his approach to sculpture, him moulding his subjects bodies and reproducing that in different sculpted materials, it’s a collaborative performance which intrigued me.
Odur’s work surprised me because I have followed him for a while and first his work has been two dimensional but here he has shifted and he has used his metal sheets to work in 3D, this is the first exhibition in which he is showing his experiments with aluminum, I was excited to see this too. But allow me to digress a bit.
While I was viewing this work a group of people came in and may I say these ladies and a gentleman displayed the worst level of gallery etiquette I have seen. Where does one get the audacity to pile their bags and jackets on an artists work! and there was the constant fingering of the work probing it, scratching, these philistines did it all. May be it was because these were emerging artists and the gallery was lenient but I don’t think this behavior would pass if it were artists on Afriart’s professional roster, the fact that these people didn’t even talk to the artist before reducing their work to selfie props left me feeling quite uneasy.
Now back to imperfections, I had the chance to talk with Atugonza about his work and the process he has gone through to solidify his style of sculpture and he told me he has developed it when he started his undergraduate degree at Margaret Trowell School of Fine Art, he says he likens his sculpture to a language, and that he translates what the bodies of his collaborators say into sculptures, and that the ones he exhibited were sculptures that told of the insecurities of the people that he collaborated with to produce them.
His goal is to observe and translate the human form into a visual language that tells the stories of his collaborators, and from the talk I had with him I learned that he has spent a great deal of effort and time on achieving this, I’m excited to see additions to this new body of work.
Odur’s works are still made of the same material he has used for so long but they morph in form, he previously embossed images on copper plates but for imperfections he has produced 3D sculptures working with aluminum to create various objects, I think he is experimenting with his new found techniques, materials and this new form and structure.
His work makes no claims to concept or emotional charge at first glance but hidden inside each of the work are some of Odur’s private symbols that highlight his journey and identity as an artist, but at another look maybe the work is a bunch of meaningless objects that I am desperate to wring meaning out of, but it doesn’t matter because Odur still succeeds with his sculpture, the metal works and gives off the uncanny effect that the objects are frozen in time, Odur pays attention to detail in each of the pieces and the way the light plays onto the materials and the textures are a visual delight and that is enough.
Silhouette projects first cohorts Odur and Atugonza are showing immense growth in their practice, and I think the residency is shaping up to be the platform for new and vital works of art on the regional and international scene, I think Silhouettes is successful because it combines radical experimental approaches with the professionally oriented artistic culture of Afriart gallery to give the artist a balanced outcome from their residency, and this is something I have seen in the imperfections exhibition, hope to see more from Silhouette Projects.