ECHOES – Group Show

Amasaka Gallery, Kampala, Uganda
22 Jul 2023 - 15 Aug 2023

Olivia Mary Nantongo, Look at me (detail), 2022, digital print on fabric, 57 x 45,8 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Amasaka Gallery.

Olivia Mary Nantongo, Look at me (detail), 2022, digital print on fabric, 57 x 45,8 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Amasaka Gallery.

Three young emerging artists: Ethel Aanyu, Olivia Mary Nantongo and Allan Kyakonye join a stage to push the boundaries of their media and to use their own bodies and biographies as a material of expression and a site of experimentation.

Olivia Mary Nantongo engages patterns and texture to blur the boundaries between figure and ground, photography and painting. Her gaze, through blacked out eyes, commands attention, confuses the viewer as it becomes unclear if she is looking at us or into space – ready to lash out any moment, like a Sphinx, guarding the way past the very trope that she created. Emanating defiance and asserting control over her self-image, she reshuffles the narratives surrounding power, identity, and representation.

Ethel Aanyu‘s photographic compositions unfold as a tapestry of digital layering, merging positive and negative black and white images. Guided by introspection and self-exploration, Aanyu becomes both creator and subject. Weaving captivating self-portraits in action, Aanyu manifests as a figure of contemplation. Her totem-like appearance unveils the interplay of vulnerability and resilience, care and healing, unraveling the complex depths of human experience and the ceaseless dynamics that shape our being.

Faces with blurred features emerge from Allan Kyakonye‘s mixed media works, rendered in a peculiar material that, upon closer examination, reveals itself as burnt and discolored fragments of aluminum foil. These enigmatic countenances are set against whimsical backdrops, creating a vibrant interplay of elements. A constellation of medallion-shaped miniature portraits envelops one of the figures, giving rise to a sense of a floating family tree, as if delving into the exploration of ancestry and lineage. And in fact, beneath the surface, Kyakonye’s choice of materials holds concealed allusions to his personal biography: From a young age, he collected tin foil, initially with the intention of selling it to scrap dealers, only to later repurpose and incorporate it into his artistic creations as a trace of his personal journey.

In this way, all three artists are creating echoes of themselves, mirror images not so much of what is, but of what is continuously becoming. Resonating bodies channeling our entanglements within and without: in stories, in states of mind, in kinship, in our surroundings, in our slippery notion of identity.