Ugandan Artists: Meet David Kibuuka
"I am never satisfied that Ive done all I can to help bring the world together through my art."
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First published: March 27, 2006
Everybody who is interested in the Ugandan art scene has heard of this visual artist. He is truly one of Uganda 's greatest success stories, cultural ambassadors and role models. Born in Uganda, he began selling his paintings to international collectors through local galleries at the tender age of 11. Protégé to his brilliant late mentor and older brother Henry Lutalo Lumu, the artist shared a passion for both the works of European art masters as well as traditional African artistry. Later on in his life, he was able to fuse these two and create some of the most spectacular art on the international arts scene.
David Kibuuka is also known as one of the originators of Fragmentation, which is the distinguishing method of composing dominant and multifaceted visual images using mosaics of color and form. This memorable stylistic innovation remains a characteristic of East African Modernism, and Kibuuka, one of its most recognized practitioners. Kibuuka enrolled at Makerere University School of Fine Arts (Kampala) to begin his more intensive study of fine art but because of political unrest during the Idi Amin period, he left Uganda and settled in Kenya for a few years, continuing to do his art. But political unrest would follow him there as well and finally in 1983, he immigrated to Canada where he currently resides and settled in Toronto.
In 1984 Kibuuka enrolled, full-time at the Ontario College of Fine Art in Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Video Production; and graduated in 1988. It was here where he would familiarize himself with video and computer graphics, by working in an animation studio. These new skills would help him generate his signature futuristic style by creating movement and depth through strong flowing lines, shaded hues, and mosaic textures -- adding contemporary and graphic elements to his classic and traditional influences. He is now giving workshops to those interested in learning the technique.
Through his art, he is managing to preserve images of Africa which are in danger of disappearing from the record of daily human existence. We see a celebration of the Masai, the Buganda Kingdom, African royalty, musicians, warriors, dancers and he definitely celebrates the beauty of African women. His compelling images have been used by numerous non-profit organizations such as the United Way, UNICEF, and the Kidney Foundation. Among his collectors are Dionne Warwick-the singer, Her Royal Highness the Queen of Buganda Nnabagereka and Susan L. Taylor Editorial Director ESSENCE Magazine.
Susan L. Taylor and David Kibuuka
Dionne Warwick and David Kibuuka
Jane: At what age did you create your first art piece?
David: I must have been 4 or 5 when I got beaten for drawing on walls in the sitting room with charcoal. I guess those were the symptoms that l would be an artist.
How did your brother Henry Lumu influence you as an artist?
Henry Lutalo Lumu
My late brother (Henry Lutalo Lumu) was an outstanding artist and had a huge influence on me when l was growing up. He was a very colourful and a versatile artist and his impact can be seen in a number of artists that were lucky to cross his path. Artists Like, Wasswa David Katongole, Jimmy Kitamirike and many others...
For those who do not know, what is the modern African Art Movement?
The modern African Art Movement is a style of painting that is passed on to other artists and influences them to pass it on to others. Some of us were greatly influenced from the artists of the 60s and 70s movement and we are having our own influence passed on to a number of young artists around the world and thus the Modern African movement was created. Clients interested can visit www.theartroom-sf.com and read more about the modern Ugandan Art movement.
You are equally fluent in oils, acrylics, watercolours, pencil, and mixed media. Which is your favourite?
Acrylics have a wider range of use on so many different surfaces and can be used light or thick to obtain different results on canvas, paper, glass, wood etc...
What inspired a piece such as Baganda Dancers?
When l was growing up in Kampala, I loved going to the Uganda Museum and watch and draw the NANKASA Troops Dancers and l fell in love with the way they moved when they danced. The grace and elegance in which they carried themselves to the drum beat was amazing and still powerful today.
What does Her Royal Guitarist symbolize?
Her Royal Guitarist
She is the kind of lady who plays a guitar for the Royal family and symbolizes a higher class of a listening clientele which loves guitar music.
What about Hypnotize?
If we all can have a chance of going into deep space and view the earth from there, the only reflection in our eyes would be the blue planet (earth) and how hypnotic that would feel to us. The beauty and power of the life force is very hypnotizing. That was the message l wanted to connect with the viewer in the painting of Hypnotize.
Proud Heritage is really a loaded piece politically and socially. My interpretation is that it's a reminder for Africans to be proud of their heritage and ancestry. What were you thinking of when you created it?
You just hit the nail on the head. We are the beginning of the human race and should be always proud of our African heritage and ancestry.
I understand that you are working with Her Royal Highness Nnabagereka's Children Trust Fund for a fundraiser in Kampala. Greeting cards will be sold for the Easter holidays for example. Can you please tell us more about that?
I have always been involved in fundraising for a number of Organizations and charities for example, UNICEF, World Vision Canada etc... This will be my second fundraiser project with Her Royal Highness Nnabagereka's Children Trust Fund during the Easter holidays time and beyond. Her Royal Highness has done a lot and I have been inspired by the Nnabagereka's effort to bring more awareness to the unfortunate suffering children in our beloved Uganda. We are working together to raise funds and bring more awareness using my art cards, art prints etc... (See list of other charities below)
You seem to be well versed in Buganda matters and themes. How did you gain this knowledge?
In fact, my knowledge is very limited in this area and l would love to understand more about our kingdom and the people and how far back in time we go
What role do you think that Ugandan art plays on the global scene?
I am not sure how big the impact Ugandan art has been on the world stage and what role it plays today but l guess we are not far back behind other African countries. We have to inspire the young generation to take the torch into the future for Uganda and see what kind of impact it will have.
Do you believe that artists are cultural ambassadors of their countries? Could you please explain why?
Art is our first ambassador in the global village and a country and its people are well understood thorough their heritage and how rich their art is. Take countries like Japan, India, Egypt and many others. l hope that in the near future artist can network with other Ugandans to spread the Ugandan art culture as it makes us all look good and proud to be Ugandans.
Are you the type of parent who would encourage your children to be artists if you saw that they were interested?
My oldest daughter is 16 years old and a very good artist and l have always exposed to them art as it helps them culturally to understand who they are but to also fuse it with other professions. She plans to become a plastic surgeon and repair damaged faces etc... I feel that she will be an outstanding artistic plastic surgeon.
How has living in Canada influenced you as an artist?
I am not sure how deep the influence has been for the last 23 years that l have lived in Canada plus 6 years in Kenya. But l guess, it has had it's impact in some way that l have not yet summed up. The pace and the intense competition in North America is bound to change anyone. l guess I have become more sensitive and want to help more people that are not as lucky as some of us, and my art has also matured and changed a lot in how l use my colours and subject matter etc...
What are your current projects?
My current project is the new line of greeting art cards and mini art prints. It is a very interesting project as it makes it possible to reach more clients in today 's global market. Cards are sold at Banana Boat stores in Kampala etc...
What is next for you?
I will have to wait and see what the next 5 years have in store. But for now, l will stay focused on my art projects and network with others to make a world a better place to live in.
Where can people who want to buy/see your art find it?
Clients can now buy my artwork on line at www.kibuuka.com or visit Banana Boat stores in Kampala, the Bugolobi Shell store and for large art works at NINA Interiors on Jinja Road (Kampala).
You are one of the most internationally famous Ugandan artists. Do you have any advice for those who may wish to follow your footsteps?
Thank you. But I am not sure if I am all that famous, but I guess that it is a good thing l hope. They have to be innovative and entrepreneurship must be the name of the game. In these fast-changing times we live in, they can no longer wait for galleries or anybody to discover their art work. They have to put themselves where the buying clients can see their artwork or create a market for themselves by looking at today 's new mediums like the internet and try to understand how to use it to network in the new global village market place and all that can make the difference between a successful artist and a staving one.
Thank you David for the interview.
You are very much welcome...
For more information on David Kibuuka please go to www.kibuuka.com
Kibuuka is currently involved with World Vision Canada and Artistic lmpressions Canada programs for children and those affected by HIV/ AIDS pandemic in Africa - view program at www.Artisticimpressionscanada.com
Kibuuka is also involved in children art workshops around the world. View photo workshops at www.kibuuka.com
Kibuuka is also involved with the The Nnabagereka Development Trust Fund under the A GIFT WITH A PURPOSE project. Children are our future and precious assets and we must always do the best we can to care and nurture those unfortunate children to grow and be reproductive citizen of the world. . The Nnabagereka Development Trust Fund kindly asks for your participation in helping in the 2006 A GIFT WITH A PURPOSE fundraiser with world renown Ugandan Artist David Kibuuka Lumu 's beautiful line of greeting Art cards for all purpose and fine Art paintings. For more information go to http://www.nabagereka.org/ as well as www.Artisticimpressionscanada.com and www.kibuuka.com
List of a few organizations which have benefited from his generous donations:
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First published: March 27, 2006
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.