MishMash restaurant and gallery is showcasing the work of ten different artists from the 1st of June 2012 to the 17th of June 2012. This two week group exhibition is quite the unique and elaborate spread. This is because it is a compilation of not only different artistic temperaments and styles, but it is also unanimous in its theme. This diverse group of people are all exhibiting artwork that is inspired by their different Ugandan experiences.
Donata Ghiglia and Klaus Betz are some of the artists whose work is very centered on the use of wood. Klaus more so than Donata. His pieces are clearly inspired by the African female body. His wooden sculptures are fairly identical to a petite coffee colored woman with a curvaceous allure. There is a sexual undertone in some of his pieces, with these nude women only half sculpted and their legs and breasts exposed. One piece in particular, entitled “to hell with paradise” is a peculiar montage of leather, mahogany wood and fiber glass; An intriguing perspective of the forbidden fruit with a woman’s leg literally hanging in the balance.
Donata’s work however bears a heavy abstract quality. She mounts mixed media on wood; sisal, rope, sand and oil. Most of her work is somberly expressed, but any dullness in color is made up for by her lively patterns. Although the audience with a more concrete or practical attention may pass over these pieces, the lover of abstract art may wish to hover.
I cannot say that I was blown away by every piece that I saw, but I can say that there were a few which caused me to linger over their frames for more than just a moment. The photographic works of Karin Kallander and Meltem Yasar are examples of the pieces that quite stole my attention.
Karin’s pictures which are mounted on boards are mostly of the beautiful natural endowments of East Africa. The pictures of wildlife such as ‘Stripes’ captures the very essence of the zebra, the ‘Great migration’ is extremely indicative of the journey taken by the wildebeests across the savannah, and ‘Kampala view’ is literally just that, Kampala.
Meltem Yasar on the other hand seems to use a very personalized touch with the pictures she takes. The people whose pictures she takes seem as if they were paused for breath behind the glass of the frame, giving it an honest and intimate feel. There are many that I could speak of but the ‘Bottle cap’ girl is the only one I cannot tear myself from. The picture is of a girl with a crown on top of her head that is made of only bottle caps. Quite a rudimentary royal of sorts.
I suppose it is understandable that not all artistic expression is perceived in a universal language; for that reason, some art just didn’t work for me. While most of the artwork showcased told a story, there were some that lacked a relevance and continuity. These pieces seemed more fitted to flower and garden catalogues or post card designs than to a gallery wall with some of the more politically and socially dimensional ones. This sentiment is driven even more so when the same artist is responsible for two distinct pieces; one with a clear depth and wealth in its comedic and provocative edges, and the other with recreational and amateur use of paint, oil, water colors or film.
The art exhibited ranges from paintings, to crafts, sculptures, mounted photographs and graphic designs. Some of whose work I have not mentioned only for lack of time, but whose art is worth looking at all the same; if only to make one’s own observation. Frankie Raiderson’s modern use of graphics to create African acclamations in pieces such as “African Spectrum” and ‘I Heart Kampala’ are a mathematical flirtation with creativity. Although I cannot claim to completely agree with the abstract aspects of some of his graphics, I do appreciate that some amount of skill was necessary to pull it off.