Monthly Archives: May 2012

I will be taking part in a group exhibition “Inspired Women”at the Laphto Gallery, Addis Ababa, starting tomorrow 24th May 2012. This is a detail of one of the pieces on show.


Mathias Tusiime’s new paintings

Mathias Tusiime’s acrylic-on-canvas works are composed of an array of colours in warm reds, vivid greens, deep blues, luminous yellows and plain white, that harmoniously coexist. Black-outlined faces with large, bright eyes and bright leaves are arresting features in the works. This jumble of colours is particularly appealing because of the variety of unexpected hues that echo the multitude of sounds and movements around Nansana where Tusiime lives and paints. The paintings are each distinctive yet reflecting the artist’s joyful vocabulary.

Although Tusiime sometimes paints on canvas, he is well known for his outstanding support – handmade paper, which he makes from sugarcane pulp, maize cobs and old paper. In this exhibition, he is showing the process of his practice. From trash, he collects his materials that he boils, pounds and coaxes into paper, which he then dries in the sun. In this way, he is recycling inexpensive discarded materials thereby reducing the rubbish mounds that otherwise plague the city. The coarse texture of the resulting paper is surprisingly visually arresting with thin fibers crisscrossing in all directions.

Tusiime paints children’s faces set within foliage but otherwise imprecise backgrounds. He comes from a large family and has little children of his own. He also works in Makerere University gardens surrounded by students. With almost half of Uganda’s population under age fifteen, it is not surprising that these young faces appear in the artist’s work, and are so arresting in their stares, confidently asserting their presence.

Tusiime plays a role in society of narrating the story of Uganda’s continued population growth and environmental laxity, while showing the joy in our persistence through the use of a bright palette. He points us in a direction of action where he leads the way by creating his own art supplies, in the face of economic hardships that thwart hopes of procuring expensive imported materials.

Throughout the exhibition, one is struck by Tusiime’s clarity and economy of expression. He invites us to participate in a conversation about the future of our youth, the future of our environment, the future of our country.

Margaret Nagawa, 2012

Mathias Tusiime: New Paintings

ImageThe haunting eyes of Uganda’s youth. The vitality of Kampala. The deep green leaves.