By Alex Roberts
Up a plywood riser of stairs inside the ever-expanding confines of Motiv in Kampala, a vast array of paintings hangs in a semi circle around a central atrium; a massive undertaking and a reminder of why Kwiz Era is one of the region’s preeminent painters.
He’s been a staple of the East African arts sphere for years now, and launching this weekend Kwiz Era will be launching his long awaited new gallery showcase in Kampala on Friday, January 8th, 2020.
The theme of the showcase is concioussness, an ongoing effort nearly a decade in the making. This theme bleeds over and weaves in different elements, everything from black conciousness to sexuality to pan-Africanism. The myriad of directions rings true in the collection, which can take a visitor more than an hour (and probably multiple laps) to fully wrap their heads around. It is a cornocopia of color and image, almost difficult to comprehend such images could spring from the same mind.
As Kwiz Era explains “As a way to launch this series of shows under the same theme, hopefully through the Motiv umbrella in future years, as I learn of life in all dimensions and the knowledge I attain I get to share what I have learned and what I have unlearned; my life as we go on really. This is a show that I’ve worked on for nearly two years and when COVID hit, it was on hold.”
The pieces don’t shy back from the controversial even taking on themes such as consent, portraying the theme through a detailed and mind-bending portrayal of a zipper.
This chaotic period of the pandemic is not lost on the painter, letting the the instability influence the works within the showcase, resulting in a collection that seems to be breathing as an entity within the current moment. “If you’re born on this Earth you have to make peace with the fact that you have to die some die, and it almost our biggest liberation.” Urgency is the word that pops into one’s head while walking along the corridor where the paintings are hung, framed and lighted. It is clear that Kwiz Era has something to say here, the Motiv gallery is practically bursting with the works and their reflected ideas. His is a collection steeped in pan-Africanism, the images reflecting an Africa that the artist one day envisions.
If such yearly galleries are to continue, it would stand as a showcase of what is possible within the Kampala (and frankly, East African) art sphere, a themed showcase that can be built and expanded upon through out the creator’s progressions.
On the venue itself, Kwiz Era explains, “It’s a good space that isn’t just for creatives to do their work in production but it is an avenue onto these art spaces that we can call ours for an entire industry, normally artists hide in dungeons to create but a place to help you actualize the work is something that fills the gaps as creatives, and through the e-market, it is almost like an icing on the cake to help monetize their work. This is a space for any makers, not just artists but all makers.”
Be sure to check out the #ConsciousnessExhibition at Motiv in Kampala, opening on Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th of January 2021 and running through February 20, 2021.