David Kibuuka conducting a Modern Batik art workshop.Kyambogo University Modern Batik workshop conducted by David Kibuuka on his recent trip to Uganda.  Photo courtesy of Modern Batik Workshop archives.

David Kibuuka is one of the founders of "Modern Batik Art Painting" in East Africa where he introduced "Fragmentation" technique to traditional Batik Art. This
modification added increasing background depth, broadness and a richer
palette of colors to the batik painting, allowing this novel fine art medium to yield control, detail and richness comparable to acrylic and water-color painting.

While influential 20th century Europeans such as Picasso and Moore borrowed from traditional African art forms, recent 21st century Africans such as David Kibuuka have been influenced by masters of African traditional art and contemporary Western art.

His virtual gallery at www.kibuuka.com gives David Kibuuka the time to follow his passion which is teaching Modern Batik Art Technique to empower the next generation of artistic youth. His workshops have been held in the USA, Canada, Africa, Europe, and in several Caribbean countries. 

Modern Batik Art Workshops on Global TV


David Kibuuka Links.

David Kibuuka Workshops.

Modern Batik Workshop.

Some of Kibuuka's students. Photo courtesy of Modern Batik Workshops.


New Batik & The Fruit of Modernism

by Jeannie Cotter

Fast forward to year 3015. Imagine being in a time-capsule and transported into a new city – you see batik monuments erected on the streets, nicely done almost resembling art sculptures. Artists begin to speak of wax in abstract language. Instead of wax being used as a dye-resistant agent on a piece of fabric, it can be seen as borders that join different continents of the world. The rain seems like wax applied on batik fabric and a great leap has been made. Welcome to seeing things in 11-dimension.

A sort of telepathy occurs between David Kibuuka and his viewers. Being one of the originators of Fragmentation in Batik, Kibuuka believes genetically, we are all artists. It is only that some of us strongly express the ability to create objects.

Born in Uganda(East Africa), David Kibuuka left Uganda in 1977 for Nairobi, Kenya to continue his studies in fine art. Encouraged by his parents and late brother Henry Lumu to the path of art, Kibuuka loves art as it gives him unlimited freedom of expression and is therapeutic to his soul. His late brother Henry Lutalo Lumu had a great influence on him. 

Traditional batik technique came from Java, Indonesia to East Africa in the 60’s. A number of Ugandan artists left Uganda during the heights of Idi Amin regime to sell and work in Nairobi, Kenya in 1976. The late Henry Lumu Lutalo revolutionized the traditional batik technique to match his realistic painting in watercolour and oil. Kibuuka being a student of realistic pencil drawing was able to learn from his older brother the technique of Modern Batik. Kibuuka added a number of components like pure toning, reversed half tones and fragmentation. This dramatically altered the technique from the traditionally cracked background.

Through the guidance of his brother, Kibuuka was greatly influenced by the western masters like Rembrandt , Da Vinci , Michelangel and Gauguin. He began painting at an early age and sold his first painting when he was 11 years old. He enjoys working in oils, acrylic, watercolour and modern batik. A number of his paintings depict ethnic subjects, wild life and nature.

To Kibuuka, the human civilization is incubated in art – without it, we wouldn’t have a blue print of where to go and what to invent. Art is being repackaged in high tech and the future trends in art will be on flat screens and cyber galleries. But the original art will always be king to collectors.

Some of his latest paintings are focused on spiritual life. Paintings like Thorns and Life Force and Pain, Power, Glory depict such spiritual energy . The whole idea is to transport the viewer into the spiritual world or motivate them to think about it.

Inspired by life to paint, Kibuuka also believes humans live in a space of time called life and in his timeline he would like to leave something behind when he’s gone. That inspires him to keep on painting and assist others who are not as fortunate on this good earth. Apart from painting, Kibuuka is also involved in fundraising activities with a number of organizations for humanitarian purposes. He loves movies, especially science fiction ones.

He discovered batik through his high school teacher in 1974. Amazed by how wax and dyes in fabric produced different results, Kibuuka came up with a technique called the fragmentation technique and began using the technique in modern batik. Fragmentation can be manipulated to create all kinds of abstract patterns and designs in the background that eventually becomes part of the subject matter. e.g. compositions like Mother and Child, Togetherness and many more. This unique style remains a characteristic of East African Modernism.

Most of his clients could not separate his modern batik art technique from some of his acrylic or watercolour paitings, so he wanted them to see the difference between the other media. Hence, the birth of a book on batik. His latest book “Modern Batik Workshops” has 50 colour plates that go back as far as 1981 to 2007.

Painting aside, Kibuuka organises modern batik workshops that are held all over Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. They are intended to motivate, inspire and empower youth who are artistic. He has a good number of adult and senior students who love the workshops for their therapeutic energy in the process of applying wax and dyes on fabric.

His advice to young artists: “Stay positive and focused. Innovation should always be the word, use the Internet to social network in the global village.”

Readers can view David Kibuuka’s artworks at www.modernbatikartworkshops.com .