Uganda stars in Venice

Friday May 27 2022
Paintings by Collin Sekajugo at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022.

Some of the paintings by Collin Sekajugo at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022. PHOTO | FRANCESCO ALLEGRETTO


Uganda’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2022, featuring paintings by Collin Sekajugo and weavings by Acaye Kerunen, has received a Special Mention award.

Kerunen was singled out for her use of materials such as raffia, illustrating "sustainability as a practice and not just a policy or concept".

The two Kampala-based artists are presenting their work at the Palazzo Palumbo Fossati, through Tanzanian-born British curator Shaheen Merali under the title Radiance - They Dream in Time.

One can take a 3D virtual tour of the Uganda Pavilion via:

The Ugandan show includes online conversations, field trips to the centres of excellence, and developing artistic practices and resources through curatorial and organisational support.

Merali said the dual approaches to art by Kerunen and Sekajugo find a common ground in their respective imaginations.


“Both artists have been working actively with formal and informal archives of Uganda’s dynamic visual culture,” she said.

Kerunen’s work employs hand stitching, appending, knotting and weaving with natural fibre.

Along with Ugandan craftswomen, she makes installations that question the divide between fine art and craft as predicated by Western traditions.

Her work is rooted in the belief that creative production is an authentic expression of lived experience.

By deconstructing utilitarian materials and artisan crafts, Kerunen repositions the work in order to tell new stories.

She has nine large works and 16 smaller ones including Iwang Sawa (Alur for In the Eye of Time).

New works added are Myel — an installation depicting a woman in a moment of dance motion in basketry, woven mat and raffia; Wangker (Alur for Eyes of Reign), which is a large wall-based work in banana fibre, palm leaves and raffia; Kot Ubinu (Alur for The Rain is Coming), which is an interactive multimedia installation in basketry, palm leaves, and raffia; and Passion Flower — a round wall-based work in raffia, palm and basket rings.

Sekajugo’s lively, semi-abstract works focus on the human figure, using silhouettes and collaged elements to critique ethnocentrism and visualise shared humanity.

His mixed-media collages include embroidery, photography, acrylic paint, and locally sourced materials such as polypropylene and bark cloth.

Sekajugo said he has 12 pieces on display in Venice.

“There’s an artwork titled I Own It All. This is my cover piece, and it portrays an ideal post-colonial well-to-do Ugandan man.

The work features a fashionable gentleman relaxing on a stylish couch.

The backdrop of his room is adorned with pattern work representing Uganda’s long horned cattle. The cows denote wealth in Ugandan culture” the artist said.

The eight-month exhibition taking place in the Central Pavilion and in the Arsenalein Venice features 213 artists from 58 countries.