Refugees tell personal stories in art exhibition

Thursday August 18 2022

A painting by Krehim Sharon. PHOTO | BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI | NMG


In an art exhibition titled Hidden Beauty, refugees in Uganda tell stories of family, child-headed homes, homelessness, loneliness, fear, pain, war, courage and struggle in their paintings.

On display at the exhibition that opened on August 5 and closed on August 12, at the Xenson Art Space in Kampala are mainly acrylics on canvas that portray the true lives of the refugees.

As part of the Moving Identities Festival in May 2022, the Alliance Française de Kampala and the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/Uganda German Cultural Society joined forces to organise a three-day painting workshop in Nakivale Refugee Camp in Isingiro District in western Uganda. During this workshop, the refugees were accompanied by two painters to create their paintings.

The aim of the exhibition is to show another image of the people living in refugee camps. This workshop was also aimed to give them hope that they can do something with their talent and may make a living from their art.

Shong Plaisir’s painting shows a face with one eye and one palm. It’s a true story of concern of people who keep disappearing as a result of war. They are full of fear and pain and when they get home they struggle a lot financially to get their life back.

King’s painting, Hidden Beauty is the title of the exhibition, showing a young woman behind a wire mesh with red flowers, depicting fears that no one believes in her vulnerability.


A painting by the 19-year-old refugee from DR Congo, Lebon Sheria portrays a young girl carrying her baby sister. It’s a real story that the artist witnessed. In the periods when there are no parents, it’s always the eldest sisters that take over and care for their younger siblings.


When there are no parents, it’s always the eldest sisters that take over and care for their younger siblings. A painting by Lebon Sheria. PHOTO | BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI | NMG

Krehim Sharon, a 19-year-old refugee from DR Congo, has a painting that shows a man’s legs in chains tied with a clock and a key. The portrait is the real life of the artist. The invisible chains are defining how it has been hard for him to expose his talent, in the refugee camp, no one believes in him, but he believes in himself, he holds the keys to the chains. When the time comes, the world will know his potential, and the sky will be the limit.

The 16-year-old Congolese refugee, Merci, has a painting that shows a mother carrying her child while giving the young one a peck on the check. It’s a true story of the artist and how he and his mother have been together through the hard times of war until today.

A painting by the 18-year-old refugee from DR Congo, David Kwalikwalaba shows a young boy wearing a red cap with a cock on his left shoulder dressed in a bowtie. He loves animals and he emphasizes his love for them, that they can be treated as well as humans are.

The closing event of the exhibition “Hidden Beauty - changing our story through art” will be held on August 13 at Xensons Art Space. Each piece of art will be sold for $64 and proceeds will go to the artists from the Nakivale Refugee Camp.