Richard Onyango Heavy Machines in the Garage Acrylic on canvas 2010
Here are some early details on a show we are putting on as part of the Edinburgh Festival
The spectre of Memory in contemporary African art
ESU – Scotland, 23 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 8HQ
August 6th- 30th 2010
10am - 6pm
Kenya’s Richard Onyango can remember scenes from his childhood and more recent past with almost perfect recollection and then paint them in vivid detail. Aside from any innate gift of recall, this practice stems from a conscious decision made as a child when, lacking a camera but inspired by its power, he resolved to use his own mind as a recording device.
The camera is the most obvious recorder of history but in modern Zimbabwe photographers are more vulnerable to harassment than artists. Photography lacks the flexibility of painting, where all the components of a social phenomenon can be incorporated. Lovemore Kambudzi has been evoking the realities of life in Harare for the last ten years. The (decidedly unofficial) equivalent of a western “war artist”, he has emerged as the principal recorder of his country’s fate.
Peterson Waweru Kamwathi’s work is mostly linked to moments in the history of his country, Kenya. These may not be made explicit, but there is a sense in his work of recording history at an oblique angle. His work painstakingly records his country’s political aspirations and their realisation or subversion. And the grave consequences of political failure.
Soly Cisse is haunted by the happy memories of his childhood which seem to seep in to almost every canvas he paints in the shape of wild animals that he hunted in his youth - the animals appearing now to flee from modernity rather than the artist’s youthful pursuit.
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