Eria Sane Nsubuga and Eric Mukalazi, two Ugandan artists collaborate to produce startlingly good animation that surfaces as social commentary.
We’ve all seen it. The stereotype of the pushy curator. Especially the one who arrives in the non-Western world looking for artists to represent or whose art them simply aim to buy. Whether they arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Kampala or Bogota, the stereotypes are the same. There is a brand of arrogance they carry, no matter how well-intentioned they may appear.
It is therefore both familiar and humorous to see Ugandan artists, Eria ‘Sane’ Nsubuga and Eric Mukalazi’s animated rendition of the Western collector who surfaces in Kampala in search of Eria ‘Sane’ Nsubuga.
The Ugandan artist represented by the Saatchi Gallery
is in tremendous demand and has no doubt interfaced with plenty of foreign collectors in his native Uganda, there to meet with him and purchase his work. Obsessed with the production of art as social commentary, Nsubuga’s latest work is based on an exploration of elevated importance expressed across cultures.
Nsubuga’s paintings are filled with caricatures of people with inflated senses of importance. The people depicted in the colorful paintings are often outsized, representative of huge egos. It is easy for the artist to see these characteristics in the new social climate of Uganda.
But it is also one which, at least in Nsubuga’s latest animated pieces, is easily seen in the behavior of the Western art collector who come searching for Nsubuga in “The Abanene Chronicles”. In the episode, Nsubuga plays himself as the anonymous “Mr. Artist”.
The episodes, dreamt up by Nsubuga and animator, Mukalazi are now being featured on Vimeo. The idea was originally
“to do animation based on the characters in my paintings”.
The two artists changed the story several times.
“Reaching the outcome was a very long process because everyone had an opinion.”
But in the end, the animated piece became a story about an art curator arriving in Kampala looking for an artist. The result is well-crafted, a piece of animation with exceptional voiceovers whose actors perfectly service the characters they are portraying. Nsubuga and Mukalazi are in search of funding to begin the next series of episodes. Of the project, Nsubuga says:
“There are loads of other themes that we are hoping we can make. We would like to make a series of sorts if we can find the funding, Eric’s drawings and my ideas. I have a lot of drawings, personalities, and caricatures of people…The idea is to make all the characters from my paintings speak, come out, walk, talk and be a part of this animation.”
Nsubuga and Mukalazi are clearly on the cusp of some of the more interesting art surfacing in Uganda. A blend of social commentary on the changing cultural attitudes in Ugandan society and the way the West interfaces with the African continent, the two artists are garnering the attentions of a global audience. is