Nantume Violet

  • Carson Buka, Serious Talk, 2022, barkcloth collage and acrylic on canvas, 55 1/8 x 39 3/8 x 2".
    picks March 10, 2023

    Carson Buka

    In recent portraiture from Uganda, seldom do the subjects not meet the gaze of the viewer. Instead, they appear deliberately posed, overtly conscious of their audience and how they will be viewed. Carson Buka breaks from this trend. In most of his portraits, the artist captures his sitters deeply lost in private interaction; some are even clearly combative and yet still unbothered by the possibility of being watched.

    For “Enkolangala,” the fourth exhibition by Amasaka Gallery, one of the rare public contemporary art venues outside the capital city Kampala, Buka invites us to reflect on the

  • View of “Jonathan Okoronkwo,” 2022–23. From left: We Comot the Berlins IV, 2022; We comot the Berlins III, 2022; We comot the Berlins V, 2022.

    Jonathan Okoronkwo

    Jonathan Okoronkwo’s “Some things stay broken” took viewers from the white-cube gallery to the scrapyards and, in doing so, translated the artist’s earlier sculptures into paintings. In his 2021 exhibition “CONDEM, CONDEM, Kɔ Ntɛm!,” Okoronkwo made sculptural installations within the Aboabo Nima Moke scrapyard in Kumasi, Ghana. Left behind in the yard after the exhibition, the sculptures blended in with their surroundings.

    The paintings in Okoronkwo’s recent show took inspiration from the mechanical objects found in another Kumasi scrapyard known as Suame Magazine. The walls of the gallery were

  • View of “Not Wrapped in Cellophane,” 2022.
    picks December 27, 2022

    Ato Jackson

    Ato Jackson’s exhibition “Not Wrapped in Cellophane” takes up the question of how an image reconstructs itself as it shifts between different digital formats. Can this effect be manually replicated in a physical world?

    An ongoing body of work, “For the Gram,” 2020–, crystallizes the artist’s attempt to translate fleeting occupations of surfaces within the Ghanaian suburbs of Accra and Kumasi. Jackson first culls photos from the image slums of Instagram, relying on what the algorithms—trained on the artist’s own tastes and viewing habits—present in his feed. He transposes these visuals into

  • Frederick Ebenezer Okai, Obi Ara Ho Hia I, 2022, ceramic, wire mesh, 140 x 294 x 311". Photo: Edem Dedi
    picks September 15, 2022

    Frederick Ebenezer Okai

    For the exhibition “Earthy Structures and Contingent Breakthroughs,” artist Frederick Ebenezer Okai draws from the aesthetics, processes, and materiality of Indigenous ceramics to create works that expound on pottery’s use and significance in Ghana. Developed over three years, the terra-cotta sculptures, photography, video, sound, and virtual-reality landscapes on view highlight the artist’s relationship with the Earth as a living entity, focusing on its manifestations in the cultural objects propping up the complex structure of Ghanian society.

    In a previous body of work, Okai married pieces of

  • Samuel Baah Kortey, _Chris-Sis s2e8Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes, 2022, artificial flowers, gold leaf, metallic thread, and coffee stained-paper casts mounted on 5-ply plywood, 39 3/8 x 21 5/8 x 7".
    picks August 22, 2022

    Samuel Baah Kortey

    A mellow light emanates from inside a cavernous installation, thrumming with the sound of choral hymns. The walls are swathed with cast-paper reliefs of human faces whose craggy features imbue their setting with a cavelike feel. Knives are staked into walls, alongside letters from schoolchildren. In one corner, a small army of resin-cast figures, posed as if crucified, albeit lacking crosses, hangs suspended upside down, as if the animal flesh in a slaughterhouse scene had been replaced with human bodies. Above them, artificial roses bloom from the ceiling.

    The overloaded symbolism of the

  • View of “Sanaa Gateja,” 2022. Photo: Emmanuel Ekolu.

    Sanaa Gateja

    Sanaa Gateja is renowned for mural-scale tapestries, which he usually makes by working with more than fifty collaborators in his studio. This was not possible during the lockdowns of 2020, so he shifted to a smaller scale. The exhibition “Radical Care” gathered this new, more intimately sized work alongside a selection of freestanding sculptures and even smaller textiles in a tightly packed display recalling the density of the slums of Kampala, which house up to a million of the capital’s estimated 1.6 million inhabitants. In his “Urban” series, 2021, Gateja takes these informal settlements as

  • Xenson, Gazaya HP, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 55 x 47".
    picks December 20, 2021


    In “LumiimaMawugwe,” the latest exhibition by the artist, musician, filmmaker, fashion designer, and poet Xenson, he responds to the experience of the pandemic by drawing on his own prescient earlier bodies of work: namely, his 2015 series “Barakoa” (Swahili for “mask”) and his 2016 “Afro Goth” fashion collection, in which face coverings featured prominently. The show’s title reflects the attempt to translate Covid-19 into Luganda and communicate its gravity to a population reluctant to listen. Within the exhibition, the coinage is used to point to the period leading up to last year’s presidential

  • Stephen Goldblatt, Okonkwo, the tragic hero, Nigeria, 1970. Film still from Things Fall Apart, directed by Jason Pohland.
    picks November 24, 2021

    “Film Stills by Stephen Goldblatt”

    Fifty years after the 1971 film adaptation of Things Fall Apart was first screened in Bonn, Germany, Nigerian-born, Berlin-based photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi and Gisela Kayser, the artistic director of the Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus, have joined forces to curate a show of production film stills taken by Stephen Goldblatt. Having first opened at various venues in Lagos, the exhibition is now on view at the Uganda Museum as well as in a virtual display online.

    Adapted from the novels Things Fall Apart (1958) and No Longer at Ease (1960), two parts of Chinua Achebe’s so-called African Trilogy,

  • View of Odur Ronald’ s Muwawa, 2021. Photo: Tamie Clicks.
    picks October 29, 2021

    Odur Ronald

    A commission of the fourth KLA ART, a city-wide contemporary art festival produced by 32° East, Odur Ronald’s installation, Muwawa, 2021, compares the purported value of a bullet to that of human life. Installed at the artist’s Afropocene StudioLab in Kabalagala, Muwawa confronts visitors with a living room setup meticulously modeled after objects from Odur’s own home that were crafted out of aluminum printing plates. In a departure from the usual interior decor, however, Odur has added a chandelier of twelve hundred cast-aluminum bullets, suspended from copper wires. The work was informed by

  • Salah Elmur, Golden Jubilee, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 60 1/2 x 56 1/2.
    picks May 07, 2021


    Since the 1970s and ’80s, the trope of exile has become quite common for practicing artists in East Africa, and yet stories of cultural figures seeking refuge within the continent—rather than, say, in Europe or America—are still seldom told.

    The reasons intellectuals, artists, poets, and writers in the region left their homes in this period were rarely voluntary. In the mid-1990s, Hussein Halfawi, Salah Elmur, Eltayeb Dawelbait, and Abushariaa Ahmed—four students of the College of Fine and Applied Arts Khartoum, an institution that helped to foster the “Khartoum School” of the 1960s—would leave