Art: Xenson starts discourse on life struggles

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Life has its struggles. The personal challenges, your everyday encounters, everyone with their own. Talk of the thorny immigration issue, the wars, and the food insecurity, among numerous other pressing issues. But what is to live, what really matters in the face of whatever kind of adversity? Celebrated artist Xenson (Samson Ssenkaaba) starts the discussion in a new solo exhibition titled GUNFLOWERSMASK, running at Afriart Gallery at Seventh Street, Industrial area.

In this exhibition that opened last Friday, the multi-talented artist aided an artistic novelty to flow a provocative commentary on life issues. He used a variety of art forms, such as paintings, installations, photographs and poetry, in which he created characters that arrest a viewer’s attention.

We see an expression in the human figures with their heads hooded in masks. In one painting, someone is swimming away; in the other one is herding cattle, while on another canvas, someone looks victorious.

Common features in these works are masks, flowers and a gun, explaining the titled of the exhibition. What is behind features, say the gun in a painting Girl skipping rope where a young girl joyfully plays over a city skyline background?

A gun is something we are accustomed to seeing, especially on our continent ravaged by wars. “It represents the hardships. A gun (in this case) is part of what happens in her life, but it is not controlling her life, she is going on with life despite challenges and hardships,” Jennifer Mpyisi, the exhibition’s curator, says.  And the yellow flowers, which on almost all the painting on the exhibition, represent the glow and colourful nature that life is or, at least, should be.

Talking of wars, Xenson, in a photographic series dubbed MOKO (Mask of Kibuuka Omumbaale), re-incarnates a Buganda Kingdom god of war who lived between 1367 and 1397.

With costumes of fashion haute couture made of bark cloth, rubber tyres and tubes, Xenson places Kibuuka in our contemporary tells that he was a general of such great prowess that it was said of him that he could fly like a bird over the battlefield. In fact, there is a dedicated installation titled Kibuuka O’mumbaale on the exhibition.

AfriArt is going to be having four shows each year, including one for a solo artist. For year, it is Xenson, which is going on until November 30th. Mpyisi says they want to invite in people, including students, corporates and art lovers, hold about three dinners held in the gallery, where they we eat as talk about art, and the issues that Xensons has raised. Four paintings and part of photographic series were booked at the opening, according to Mpyisi.

Each piece is a different story, and the struggles are different, according painting. Like a poem scribed on walls at the exhibition states, Nze ye Nze/ Gwe ye Gwe/ Gwe si Nze/ Nze si Gwe (loosely translated: I am Me/ You’re You/ You’re not me/ I’m not You.)