Ugandan Artists: Meet Daudi Karungi
Daudi Karungi.(In the background is Parting Ways)

Ugandan Artists: Meet Daudi Karungi


My aim in general is to promote African Art in an international market. My aim with this workshop is to investigate strategies for both art production and promotion. I've always wanted to achieve things that seem impossible...

Daudi Karungi

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
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First published: February 25, 2006


He is definitely a man of many hats. Born in Kampala, Uganda, he is a painter, curator, printmaker, aspiring fashion designer, art events organizer, businessman and director of the AfriArt Gallery which he manages with Laura Hendrix, his Canadian born USA business director. He is also the grandson of Ugandan business tycoon James Mulwana and owns a wine bar, through his wine importing company. Combining business with pleasure, he cleverly exhibits art at his wine bar The Wine Garage in Kampala which then operates as another art promotion location for many Kampala art lovers and wine connoisseurs. He is also currently treasurer to the Uganda Artists Association; a body which monitors the visual arts scene in Uganda and one of two visual art representatives to the National Cultural Forum under the Ministry of culture, gender and social development in Uganda.

Art by Daudi Karungi
Art by Daudi Karungi


Daudi Karungi holds a Bachelor's degree in industrial and fine arts from the Margaret Trowell School of Fine Arts- Makerere University in Kampala Uganda. After graduation in July 2002, he embarked on a plan to develop art-selling avenues in Uganda, after realizing the shortage of such places in a rapidly expanding artistic country. He then started AfriArt Gallery an institution which so far is a principal gallery in the country aimed at developing talent. This was complemented with a website www.afriartgallery.com to expose the plethora of Ugandan art and talented artists to the rest of the world. His gallery was the host space for Ultra Hot Wired Live Art, Kampala, Uganda 2004.


Art by Daudi Karungi
Art by Daudi Karungi

Jane: What inspires you an artist?

Daudi: I am inspired by issues of day to day life, social, political situations of my surrounding. People in my life also inspire me this includes long time friends and strangers. The desire to make a change inspires me.

Did you have any positive mentors along the way?

In life generally and as a businessman its my cousin Arthur and my grandfather Mr. Mulwana James who are my mentors. Artistically, I look up to Ugandan artists like Ntensibe but I have met other people along the way who I have looked up to.

James Mulwana
James Mulwana
from www.uma.co.ug

The weakness of many visual artists is their business sense. But this is obviously not your problem. How has your grandfather James Mulwana been able to influence you as a businessman?

Like I mentioned earlier, he is my mentor but most of all he is my advisor, so he has helped to make the most appropriate and timely business decisions as well as investments.

What does he think of you being an artist? Is he a supporter of the visual arts in Uganda?

He always tells everyone to get into a profession they feel most comfortable doing, so when I told him I wanted to become an artist he told me to go ahead without any hesitation. He supports visual art; he attends all my exhibitions and also invites his colleagues like other businessmen and diplomats.

Its always refreshing to hear artists speak of supportive family members. You are a painter, printmaker, fashion designer as well as an art events organizer. How do you balance all these?

There are 24 hours every day, and I make the best out of them. I can't sleep when I feel like working so some days I sleep very late and wake up late and vice-versa. I socialize a lot for inspiration and business so I rarely feel like I'm wasting my time. So you will find me at 2:00am either on my computer writing a proposal for an event, painting, at my wine shop or in a pub socializing.

Daudi Karungi
Daudi Karungi

Can you please tell us more about your gallery AfriArt Gallery?

AfriArt Gallery is my brain child. I started it in 2002 after completing my bachelors in Fine Art. I saw a scarcity of venues selling and promoting Art in Uganda versus a big number of trained artists released from the university every year. This is now the 5th year in gallery management and I have curated a new exhibition every month for all these years and not missed any month. I am launching the online gallery in a bid to spread Ugandan art to the world over. www.afriartgallery.com will show current exhibitions in Kampala, you will be able to buy Ugandan art online and news about the Ugandan art scene will be regularly updated.

How did you meet Laura Hendrix your Business Director?

Laura Hendrix
Laura Hendrix

I met Laura in Uganda when I joined her and friends to Queen Elizabeth National Park, we realized we had so much in common and since then we have done a lot of business between Uganda and USA.

How has she been able to contribute in your project of fostering to the development of the Ugandan artistic identity?

Laura is the my business director in the US and if you know how hard it is to go to the US from Uganda, Laura has bridged that gap and now I can sell or buy anything through her, so I have lost the desire to go to the US. But anyway, she promotes Ugandan art in the US.

Can the Ugandan artist positively improve the image of their country abroad?

Yes.

Why?

We have so much to offer which the world has not seen.

Art by Daudi Karungi
Art by Daudi Karungi

Some people say that art is a luxury and others say that it's a necessity. What's your take on that as an artist?

I think art is part of life and anything part of life is a necessity. Though art is not mentioned in human necessities like food, shelter, clothing etc, art is a therapeutical necessity. It has been proven that people who look at art a lot, rarely need mental therapy. People go home from a stressful day of work and they look at a painting in their living room and that calms them down. YES IT IS A NECESSITY.

Some artists, because of financial reasons or other reasons still have to do the 9-5, and their art on the side. Do you do your art on a full time basis or do you have another 9-5?

I employ my self so I paint anytime I feel the inspiration, I have the freedom to either paint from my office or my home so I wouldn't say 9-5 because to me its all one job which is related and nothing is put aside after a certain hour.

As a male figure what you think of the female emancipation movement in the Ugandan visual arts scene? Do you support it?

Yes I support it; I like a woman who challenges men. Some women artists like Maria Naita are very talented that I sometimes wish I was as good as they are. Luckily women are not discriminated upon on the Ugandan visual arts scene, its survival for the fittest.

Peacemaker by Daudi Karungi
Peacemaker by Daudi Karungi

What are your current projects?

As regards to art, this year I will be artist in residence in Germany, I'm writing an art book, organising a historical art event in Uganda (I cannot reveal now) and then my annual exhibition in November. Other business, I will sign agency deals with wineries to distribute wine in East Africa. I have a wine shop, called The Wine Garage in Muyenga.

Please tell us more about your shop The Wine Garage.

The Wine Garage is a hobby kind of business which I own with my friends Allan and Josephine. We wanted to create a place where we could hang out with our friends-not the usual beer/spirits pub-so we started a wine shop/bar which incidentally is the first in the country. But eventually it has now become a business being patronized by wine connoisseurs and the more refined people of Kampala. This year we started importing wine from some of the best wine regions in South Africa to supply the East African region. The potential is huge!!

Ill make sure to pass by when I next visit Uganda. I always ask this question because women want to know. What is a beautiful woman in your experience?

A woman who respects herself, hardworking, responsible, genuinely supportive to the ones close to her, and can assume any role in a family when need arises.

Do you have any words of advice to any young people who may want to follow your path?

Hopefull by Daudi Karungi
Hopefull by Daudi Karungi

There is no short cut to success, it hard work and focus. You will never achieve anything without the two.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

I want to be known as a successful artist who promoted Ugandan art world wide, a businessman who makes impossible things happen.

What are the avenues for people who want to purchase your art? Where can they find it either online or physically?

DAUDI KARUNGIS CONTACT

Artist/ Curator
Website is www.afriartgallery.com and you can buy his work online.

Physical Address:
Afriart Gallery
Main Exhibition Hall
UMA showground, Lugogo
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: + 256 71 2455555
Email: Kadaudi@hotmail.com
Website: www.afriartgallery.com

EXHIBITIONS

2001 All Artists Exhibition, Nommo Gallery, Kampala
2004 Collaborative Art with Juuko Hood, Afriart Gallery, Kampala (0ctober)
2004 End of year sale, Afriart Gallery(December)
2004 Greensboro, North Carolina, USA ,Group Exhibition
2005 Southern Graphics Conference, Washington DC, USA
2005 Solo Exhibition, Lemon Tree Restuarant Kampala
2005 Everyday people Solo exhibition, Aidchild Gallery.
2005 Life Obulamu Solo exhibition, Afriart Gallery, Kampala

Daudi Karungi
Daudi Karungi

Responsibilities and Achievements.

  • Daudi has experience in curatorial practices and organizing art events with success in putting up an art exhibition at the gallery every month since 2002.

  • He initiated and has organized annual children Art workshops in commemoration of the Day of the African child for the past 3 years.

  • He organizes international Artists workshops and residencies like Arms into Art by Mozambican Artist Fiel Dos Santos in Kampala in association with Alliance Franaise, Kampala in 2004.

  • Currently treasurer to the Uganda Artists Association, a body which monitors Visual Art in Uganda.

  • One of two visual art representatives to the National Cultural Forum under the Ministry of culture, gender and social development in Uganda.

  • As an artist, Daudi has participated in numerous exhibitions in Uganda, Eritrea and USA.

  • Exhibiting mostly at AfriArt Gallery and creating new venues for exhibitions like restaurants, gardens and residencies in an effort to take art out of galleries to the people.

  • In a bid to merge Art with the finer echelons of society, Daudi has ventured into the wine business by importing fine wines into the country. He displays Art at his Wine bar The Wine Garage , Kampala which then acts as another Art promotion venue to the local middle class.

  • By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
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    First published: February 25, 2006
    Jane Musoke-Nteyafas, poet/author/artist and playwright, was born in Moscow, Russia and currently resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the daughter of retired diplomats. By the time she was 19, she spoke French, English, Spanish, Danish, Luganda, some Russian and had lived in Russia, Uganda, France, Denmark, Cuba and Canada.

    Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.

    She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.