Collin Sekajugo

Collin Sekajugo born in Masaka, Uganda approaches his pictures from a vantage point of a deep sense of empathy for the human condition but he also applies a rigorous conceptual framework from where his pictures are conjured. Sekajugo incorporates an astute sense of immediacy when extracting the fantastical from the mundane and his observation skills tell of the humanity that his subjects offer through insights and exposure into their most vulnerable and absurd and irreverent moments.

 Quoting curator Shaheen Merali and his forthcoming survey text on the artist - ”Collin Sekajugo paintings are pure theatre, a change of light, sometimes shadows, always overpainted of figures that have awkwardly arrived in the metropole. Similarly, Sekajugo’s concerns are of truth over fact and conspiracies; His paintings examine a particular cultural strand of a contemporaneity obsessed with itself and they are a response to his archive of stock images that has proliferated from newspapers, magazines, digital media, flyers, posters, locally sourced and recycled materials, such as denim fabrics, wastepaper and polypropylene bags.”

Colin Sekajugo reveals the problematic of our global obsession of self-reference in an act of identity swap, racial transformation, real or imagined bodies. The mundane becomes fantastical and the everyday becomes unreal. His subjects suggest that they have gone through a change but it is either so discreet that we overlook the subtleties of that transformation, or we are apprehensive to really learn what that change may mean to us. It is inside the feeling of unease that is delivered through the agency of beauty where Sekajugo finds the accidental poetry that forms the basis for his works.

Having led an itinerant lifestyle – living at different times in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and the USA, and travelling often for his practice – the question of personal identity and how it shifts and evolves relative to the individual’s surroundings is one to which he has returned often. The faceless or masked figures that populate Sekajugo’s works are sometimes draped in shawls protectively over his own body while multiple silhouettes hover around him, coming in and out of view. Here the artist considers individual encounters with new cultures and the adaptation that such encounters make necessary. Contextually, says Sekajugo “the work speaks of what we always leave behind in our quest for new lifestyles and new adventures.”

Sekajugo engages in an ever-changing and shape shifting story which is born from a rapidly changing state of cultural production globally. Unlike some artists who get caught up in empathetic views on people of colour in the West, the black experience through the Western lens speaks historically of abduction, subjugation, servitude and a shared trauma. Whilst the Eastern African experience tells a vastly different story, which is that of tribal power struggles, the egomaniacal folly of kings - old and new, the quiet spirits that still permeate and inhabit people’s daily lives, to that of overcoming more recent historical events that diluted the colonial narrative to be replaced by youth, innovation, reinvigoration and a hope for change.

Currently based in Kampala, Sekajugo works predominantly with painting, drawing and mixed media. Adopting the language of consumerism, often incorporating everyday objects into his work, Sekajugo comments on the place of material objects and our interaction with our shifting environments in the formation of identities. He has exhibited and participated in numerous residencies in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC and in private collections across the world. Sekajugo received the Ugandan Human Rights Award of 2019 for his community development work in the arts. He is the founder of the pioneering Ivuka Arts Space in Kigali, Rwanda and the Weaverbird Art Centre in Masaka, Uganda. This is the artists’ first solo exhibition in Denmark.

 

Text edited by
Nathalie Melikian
Artistic Director
Stjarna Brussels