Witness: the spectre of memory in contemporary African art is my current exhibition here staged by Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd in the beautiful city of
Memory is the theme of the exhibition – its presence is felt in all acts of creation – but I am interested by the specific roles it plays with the five artists represented and here I will write about three of them. Both Peterson Kamwathi and Lovemore Kambudzi have consciously or otherwise assumed the role of guardians of memories for their respective countries
in this world of ours which worships at the alter of systems of leverage that deliver power and or wealth to the few usually at the expense of the many. Where corporate, individual or national greed are ever present and the sins of many a father apparent if one looks deep enough. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance – there is vigilance in Kamwathi’s work that would be dogged if it were not beautiful. Existing behind the unflinching record of human failings is a strong belief in the soul, a kernel within humanity in
Lovemore Kambudzi from
No one would describe Richard Onyango as a political artist, yet whilst his subject matter – mostly his own life both real and imagined, is completely at odds with that of Kamwathi and Kambudzi; his work too, is profoundly informed by politics and social phenomenon. Like Kamwathi, Onyango is driven by a vision of a just
It is a place where people are accorded proper respect regardless of their colour or body type – where women are as powerful as men and more than capable of defending themselves if needs be#
(note the pistol on his late girlfriend Drosie’s belt and the sword on his new fantasy lover, Deborah Teighler once dubbed “the fattest woman in America”). It is an anti-obsolescence world where machinery, engineering and vehicles are revered and well maintained in to old age. It is also a place where people are aware that “dreaming” is a creative process – for Onyango believes that people get what they look for in life. You could say the artist is living proof of his belief in the power of the mind as it was his decision as a child to remember everything he saw (in the absence of a camera) that he attributes to his “photographic memory” and the ability to recall childhood scenes with a high degree of accuracy. Others might attribute it to a variety of autism (is this merely a neurotic and tedious need for labels?) but his clear recollection of his own decision to “record what he was interested in” is compelling.
Have a look at the catalogue of the exhibition...http://www.edcrossfineart.com/ECFA_Catalogue_and_price_list_Witness_the_Spectre_of_Memory.pdf