Artists explore themes around womanhood

Saturday May 11 2024

"Graceful Guardian" by Joan Namaggwa. PHOTO | BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI | NMG


Three Ugandan artists are showcasing their works in an art exhibition Mukyala at the Nommo Gallery in Kampala, which invites viewers to engage in a multidimensional exploration of womanhood, capturing the complexities and nuances of their experiences.

Artworks by Wamala Nyanzi, Joan Namaggwa, and Kigozi Axum are on display at the show that opened on April 26 and closes on May 26, 2024.

Kigozi has five oil paintings Ministration of Comfort, The Guardian’s Whisper, Motherhood Games, Out of the Picture, and Mukyala – Forgotten Beauty.

Mukyala – Forgotten Beauty depicts a woman with four elongated arms similar to the shape of an octopus surrounded with plants and butterflies of different colours.

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"The painting reminds us that the true beauty of a woman lies in her ability to handle almost every situation, tasks and experiences of life," Kigozi said.


“The power and beauty of women is rooted in how much they can handle as far as life is concerned, and the butterflies in the upper background of the painting reflect as a symbol of hope to the society and a call to remind us of the forgotten beauty of women,” he said.

In the painting “Out the Picture,” a woman carrying a mask of a face of a man is depicted instructing a baby boy on how to pee.

“In a society like Buganda, it is the father’s responsibility to show a boy how to be a man, but when fathers are out the picture towards such responsibility, mothers carry on so that we don’t completely loose the next generations which are already defected,” Kigozi says.

According to Kigozi, “Motherhood Games” is about the experiences ordinary many single mothers go through to raise their children.

It depicts a woman drowning in the sea. She is carrying two babies in her womb, one baby is in her hand which seems to be dead, and the other baby is trying to reach out to her for its life. And there is a man who is trying to pull her to the bottle of the waters.

Namaggwa, a surrealist artist (painter) has 15 oil paintings that include “Graceful Guardian,” “The Beginning of Creation,” “Redemption,” “The Heartbeat of Motherhood,” “A Mother’s Eternal Embrace,” and “Daughter of Aphrodite,” “Existential Equilibrium,” “Birth of Life,” “Fruit of Thy Womb,” “Halle and Hado,” “Infinite Oneness,” “The Ascension of Venus,” “Time Has Memory,” “The quadruple portrait,” and “Weight of Time.”

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Namaggwa says that “Daughter of Aphrodite” is a mesmerizing portrayal of divine love and maternal grace. In this painting a heavenly and surreal landscape unfolds, adorned with continuous ethereal patterns that evoke a sense of celestial beauty.

At its heart sits a lady, depicting characteristics of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, cradling a child in her warm embrace. As the epitome of maternal nurturing, she exudes tenderness and compassion, her connection with the child radiating with the essence of divine love.

“Above them, a dreamy infinity sign hovers, symbolizing the eternal and boundless nature of the relationship between a mother and her child. This sign serves as a reminder of the infinite depths of love and connection that exist between them, transcending time and space,” she adds.

“Through “Daughter of Aphrodite,” viewers are invited to immerse themselves in the profound beauty and timeless bond shared between mother and child, a bond that resonates with the divine qualities embodied by Aphrodite herself – love, beauty, passion, and the eternal cycle of creation and nurturing,” says the artist.

“Graceful Guardian” captures the essence of modern motherhood through the lens of the character of a mother swan. “Much like the swan known for its fierce temperament and aggressive defense of its nest, human mothers today often exhibit remarkable strength and determination in protecting and nurturing their young,” Namaggwa says.

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“In this painting, the swan symbolizes the unwavering devotion and fierce protectiveness inherent in maternal instincts, qualities that resonate deeply with the challenges and triumphs of motherhood in today's world. Through this portrayal, I seek to celebrate the fierce love and unwavering dedication of mothers everywhere, honoring their role as guardians and nurturers in shaping futures of generations,” she adds.

Nyanzi’s 12 linocut prints are “Beautifully Imitations,” “Hard Worker,” “I will be home soon,” “Mother’s Heart,” “The Mistress,” “Urban Cargo,” “The Way of Tomorrow,” “Totally in Love,” “Root to Marriage,” “Tulumbe,” “Market Day,” and “Breaking Walls.”

“Beautifully Imitations” shows a woman carrying a heavy load on her head besides her little daughter imitating her mother with a small item on her head. Nyanzi says that this artwork symbolizes the how children mirror the steps or their parents and reflection of the strength passed down onto the young ones.

“Hard Worker” shows a woman toiling through the night under a candle casting light showing her unwavering dedication as she silently crafts a better future.

“I will be home soon” shows three women carrying things on thee heads looking towards a distant taxi as they send a message home, hopeful that the journey ahead leads to a joyful return as they head home.

“Mother’s Heart” shows a little boy struggling to push and a wheelbarrow overflowing with books, his mother guides him with love.