Monthly Archives: November 2013

Daudi Karungi of Afriart Gallery, Kampala

Daudi Karungi of Afriart Gallery, Kampala.

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Daudi Karungi of Afriart Gallery, Kampala

On the afternoon of Wednesday 20th November 2013, I visited Daudi Karungi in his office tucked above his gallery Afriart off Kira road in Kamwokya, next door to The Hub Kampala, across the road from Bayimba Cultural Foundation, and a few houses from Tagaframe. One might call this a small arts district. He was busy typing away at his laptop but happily gave me a few minutes for conversation before heading out for lunch.

This is how it went. By Margaret Nagawa

Daudi Karungi. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Daudi Karungi. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

How did you go about becoming an artist?

I finished art school and opened a gallery. So, I did not make art at the beginning. I needed this art gallery. It was a necessity. And without it I wouldn’t survive as an artist. Meaning that if I didn’t do it, I am sure half the artists active now wouldn’t be artists today. I think 80% of the artists working today managed because of my effort and the gallery. Maybe we would have different artists.  I spent about 3 years being a gallerist exhibiting other artists, and learning how things are done in the gallery business, and then I embarked on my own art making and had my first show after about 4 years. I have since had regular exhibitions.

I went to art school. I trained to be an artist. I wanted to be an artist. But when the time came for me to be one, there was no infrastructure to be one. So I put everything on hold, made a business out of the gallery, which has sustained us over the last 11 years.

Afriart Gallery, Kampala. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Afriart Gallery, Kampala. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Who helped you along the way, and how?

My grandfather, the late James Mulwana, gave me something more precious than anything anybody can get. When I decided to open a gallery, I went to him and said I needed a big space to rent. I had a business plan and it was supposed to pay for itself. He gave me a building he had in Lugogo UMA Show Grounds that was not being used because it used to flood every time there was a heavy down pour. Nobody wanted to rent it. For a gallery space I only needed the walls. So the flooding would not be a big problem. It is a very beautiful building that was sort of designed as a gallery. I remember, my cousin, a graphic designer was using the top floor, and I worked with him on 3D design. The reason he was not using the ground floor is because of the flooding. Somebody else had used it as a furniture shop in the past and a lot of his furniture got destroyed in a flood. It was empty then.

I also needed a guest list. He was the Thai Consul in Uganda then. He was surprised that all I wanted was a guest list, so he gave me a guest list. I organized that first show with the guys I was with at University. I designed the invite and we sent out about 500 invitations. This was 10th November 2002. I was 21. There was a lot of promise in this very young 21-year-old Daudi. Many people came, my relatives, people like art collector Saihou Saidy, the then German Ambassador and collector Klaus Holderbaum; the EU ambassador then Sigurd Illing, came too and we became very good friends.

I worked in the gallery alone. I would sit there. Sometimes I had to run errands in town and then hurry back to open. I was consistent and very aggressive, I have always been. I gradually developed friendships. Working relationships whereby I offer a service, people like my service and we grow together. I bond strongly, and often very strategically, with ambassadors and other people interested in the arts. I have hosted them at my house for lunch or dinner, or they have hosted me. My grandfather helped me at the beginning, but I have done a lot of work myself since then.

James Mulwana. Photo: New Vision

James Mulwana. Photo: New Vision 

With regard to audiences, whom would you wish to see your work?

My primary desired viewer is the Ugandan middle class, which means current middle class and upcoming middle class. That is why this year, and for the next 10 years, Afriart, via my efforts, and myself is geared towards nurturing a local audience and clientele. If you notice, the activities that I am going to do, including art rentals, are geared towards Ugandans but without killing the integrity of the art. The originals will still be 1,000.00 dollars, for example, but the reproductions will be about 100,000 thousand shillings. That way the work goes out to more people. I think this will increase the value of art and also people’s appreciation of the art.

Afriart Art rental and Purchase. Photo: www.afriartgallery.org

Afriart Art rental and Purchase. Photo: http://www.afriartgallery.org

 

Afriart affordable wearable art. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Afriart affordable wearable art. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

You are using photography now. Is that your new approach?

I majored in photography at the university but I never really used it because I didn’t really know how. I don’t believe that you take a picture with your camera and then go and sell it. That is why photojournalists are the best for that because they take a picture at the right time, tell a story, and get paid for it; often because it won’t happen again. A picture can be taken by anyone with the right light, technique and tools.

With art photography, over the last 11 years I have been trying to figure out how to use it in a unique way in contemporary art.  I have been painting and doing other things in the meantime. I have used photography this time and what inspired it is an interest in the technique: photography as a source, the transfer process of photography onto canvas, and then the mixed media with painting.

Daudi Karungi, Bald and Beautiful, 2013. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Daudi Karungi, Bald and Beautiful, 2013. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

What are you working on at the moment?

I am not really interested in realistic representations. If I want to see Kampala I go see it, I want to see New York, I go there, the sand, the desert, whatever. That is why I am using mannequins and not real people in the artworks you see in this exhibition. I walk in the streets of Kampala and take photographs of the mannequins in clothing shops. I then work with these images.

Latest Things, Daudi Karungi & Paul Ndema exhibition, Afriart Gallery, Kampala, November 2013. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Latest Things, Daudi Karungi & Paul Ndema exhibition, Afriart Gallery, Kampala, November 2013. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Do you think you are going to be working this way in the near future?

Yes. I am going to draw my subjects from photography. I was in Mombasa recently and took very nice photographs of Fort Jesus. I was interested in the architecture. I am looking forward to working with these images and creating layers with paint and glue. I am looking forward to this process.

Latest Things, Daudi Karungi & Paul Ndema exhibition, Afriart Gallery, Kampala, November 2013. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Latest Things, Daudi Karungi & Paul Ndema exhibition, Afriart Gallery, Kampala, November 2013. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Can you tell me about an artist whose work or whose life you really like?

I work very closely with Paul Ndema and Mzili. In the closeness we have, we discuss art and we see art. We push ourselves to the boundaries whereby we create amazing stuff. We always say that our work might not be understood because it is new. It is so new that people sometimes enter the gallery, and they are amazed. Then they go upstairs and buy a selling artist, something familiar and comfortable.

With Paul and Henry when I go to their studios and see something really awesome, it drives me to make what I make next. So apart from these two artists, I don’t know any other whose work inspires me. But I am inspired a lot by creating something new, something avant-garde, something we haven’t seen but we have to see. I can’t say Picasso or whatever. I mean, there are some good artists like Ntensibe, and I can see how he inspires people like Paul Ndema. I like his work. I also like David Kigozi.

Upstairs in Afriart Gallery. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Upstairs in Afriart Gallery. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

 What would you say in a short text message to a young artist?

I think a young artist should work hard, be their own competition, and be self-critical.

Afriart Gallery.  Photo: Margaret Nagawa

Afriart Gallery. Photo: Margaret Nagawa

 

 


Mihret Kebede

Mihret Kebede.


Mihret Kebede

Mihret Kebede is the only female artist of the four exhibiting in Addis Ababa: the Enigma of the ‘New’ and ‘Modern’. She is also one the steering team for Netsa Art Village in Addis Ababa. She is daring, outspoken, hard working and experimental in her work.

Today November 19th 2013 is the last day of the exhibition Addis Ababa: the Enigma of the ‘New’ and ‘Modern’.

 Please take the opportunity to see it.

Mihret Kebede

Mihret Kebede

How did you go about becoming an artist?

It was there in my family since I was a child, my two elder brothers and my youngest brother used to draw. I was also drawing among them. Now two of my brothers Abraham and Ephrem are shoe model designers in ‘Merkato’ but our elder brother Asmelash, stopped at an early stage and focused on his academic studies. I remember, he used to draw everyone in the family, really nice portraits .But I am the only one who kept doing it until now and took it to a different direction which is the so called art world where Galleries, Studios, Artists, Historians, Critics, Curators, Collectors, Dealers  etc are, after studying at the Alle school of Fine Arts and Design, Addis Ababa university.

Mihret Kebede, installation, Museum of Modern Art, Addis Ababa, 2013

Mihret Kebede, installation, Museum of Modern Art, Addis Ababa, 2013

Who helped you along the way? How?

My family – by not interrupting my interest in art and my brothers who have been taking care of my expenses to practice my arts in the studio and private art training classes until I finished my college studies. But once I graduated from the fine arts school, I immediately refused to take money from anyone in the family because I believe that they have done their part successfully, and I have managed to keep going like that, thanks to God.

Mihret Kebede

Mihret Kebede

What are you working on at the moment

I am working on a project entitled ‘my space your space, your space your space’ to be a walking performance art project on the spaces that Western embassies like France, USA and Britain in Addis are given, and the amount of money they are taking from the people who walk in ‘their space’ requiring visas, just for their foot steps.

Aboard Ethiopian Airlines

Aboard Ethiopian Airlines

Who would you like to engage with your work?

Society, because everything comes out of the society: government, priests, police, children, decision makers, teachers, novelists, terrorists, justice, peace, climate disasters, war etc

Mihret Kebede, installation, Addis Ababa: The Enigma of the 'New' and 'Modern', 2013

Mihret Kebede, installation, Addis Ababa: The Enigma of the ‘New’ and ‘Modern’, 2013

Can you tell me about an artist whose life/work you really like?

Artists Tamrat Gezahagne from Netsa art village

Painting by Tamrat Gezahagne. Netsa Art Village. Photo by Nikki A. Greene.

Painting by Tamrat Gezahagne. Netsa Art Village. Photo by Nikki A. Greene.

 

What would you say in a short text message to an aspiring artist?

Do not spoil what is given to you, cultivate it! Money is just giving you a service, only because it is the only successful thing this world managed to do, believing in one another’s cash notes, and it really works that way.

Image

 

 


Mulugeta Gebrekidan

Artist Mulugeta Gebrekidan tells us a little bit about himself and his art.

Only a few days left to the end of their exhibition at The Modern Art Museum in Addis Ababa. Do visit to see the work of these four discerning artists as they interrogate the city, Addis Ababa.

Mulugeta Gebrekidan

Mulugeta Gebrekidan

How did you go about becoming an artist?

Unlike most artists I started art a bit late. As a child I used to love soccer a lot and wanted to be a football player when I grew up. But when I was 18, for the first time I saw an artist making a portrait drawing of his friend just in front of me. That was an extraordinary experience for me. The memory of that drawing is still vivid in my mind. Before that, I would always be amazed by the illustrations I could see in school textbooks. On the same day I saw this artist, I started drawing and entered the world of art. Now I can’t imagine my life without being engaged in artistic activities.

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, street performance, Addis Ababa, 2013

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, street performance, Addis Ababa, 2013

Who helped you along the way? How?

It took me two years of preparation to join the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts and Design. Joining the arts school, to my friends and I at that time, was like going to heaven on earth. It was a four-year diploma program where I specialized in painting. During my first year I remember some people told my father that it was not a good idea to study art. One day my father said ‘my son! Is it true that if you become an artist you would have some kind of mental problems eventually?’  I told him that it is not true, and he accepted my word. My father had a strong belief in education. He did everything that he could to send his children to school. He was happy that I didn’t become crazy until he passed away.

 I believe that everybody I communicate with through my art has a positive impact on me to continue making art.

A young visitor viewing Mulugeta Gebrekidan's work at the Modern Art Museum, October 2013

A young visitor viewing Mulugeta Gebrekidan’s work at the Modern Art Museum, October 2013

 What are you working on at the moment?

Because I studied painting, I was working with painting only for a long time. Then in time I started experimenting with different media for more artistic expressions and that led me now to a multimedia approach. My passion for film and photography is growing everyday and taking up most of my time. I sometimes say, I wish I could have a second life on earth and start film-making at the age of 16.  

 

At the moment, I am working on a short film with the two kids Bethlehem and Jerusalem and their family as a continuity of the current photography exhibition.

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, New Home, 2013

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, New Home, 2013

Who would you like to engage with your work?

I like to engage people in my art that inspire me and attract my attention through their life and work.

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, Jerry and Betty in School, 2013

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, Jerry and Betty in School, 2013

Can you tell me about an artist whose life/work you really like?

If you asked me this question when I was in Arts School I would easily mention some painters’ names from the old masters. Now I like works of many artists in many different ways and it is difficult to mention few names at this time. Since I work with different media and my interest area is expanding everyday, the artists that I admire now are visual artists, Architects, Photographers and Filmmakers. If you are not happy that I didn’t mention any names of artists to you, I can tell you that at the moment I am obsessed with the German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who is an amazing guy. His films are so powerful. I sometimes can’t sleep after watching his films. Whenever I am in need of some inspiration and courage I just go to YouTube and see his interviews. Then I definitely come back to my studio with a lot of energy.

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, Jerry and Betty's 'village', 2013

Mulugeta Gebrekidan, Jerry and Betty’s ‘village’, 2013

What would you say in a short text message to an aspiring artist?

Do what you love to do! Learn everyday, work hard, take risks and try new things.   

Yes!

Yes!