JOHN MUBIRU STATEMENT.
Mubiru welcoming guest at the opening of the Vanishing Africa Exhibition at the Belskie Museum. Photo courtesy of Ugandan Masters Archives.
In Eastern and Central Africa, artists acted as the record keepers charting major events and ceremonies such as birth, entry into manhood or womanhood, weather, harvest and most often death with two or three dimensional art. In most cases this art was placed onto buildings, houses, palaces or chieftain Kraals and grave sites. Also the regalia like masks and drums worn and used during some of the ceremonies was created by these artist to be representative of the times. Some of these works became treasures and symbols of power that if they were lost the leaders lost their authority to govern.
These lands are changing and so is the art. Whole societies have been uprooted by wars, mismanagement and famine some of it caused by climate change. But through this all I still have good memories of my childhood in Africa which I never paid much attention to until I left. But I have come to a realization that it's these memories which are the source of my inspiration.
When I visit these lands I see fewer and fewer people donning traditional regalia or attending the ceremonies. Through my work I try to portray a people who were rich in color, culture and tradition. I have always hoped that my work will keep events, pastimes and ceremonies of a people in transition to not forget we were a derivative of the past. To give those who were born in a later time a glimpse into the lives of a people who had a way of life that is changing “A VANISHING AFRICA”.
Mubiru's modern works of traditional and contemporary African art are influenced by his childhood. Born in post colonial Africa plagued with power struggles in his native Uganda and the African continent, he ended up settling in the United States. "Africa is in transition" he says "that is why I'm so fascinated by cultures that have stuck to our old ways of life. When I look at the Massai, Karamajongo and other nomadic African tribes, I feel a link to our simple way of life that is no more". His striking tribal motifs and scenery evoke the essence of African culture and life, vibrant, colorful and alive. His use of a palette knife, blunt paint brush and thick oil application, a technic that gives his work an almost a three dimensional feel.
Mubiru draws his inspiration from day to day activities of people from his native Africa, like this Herds boy...........
"But through this all I still have good memories of my childhood in Africa which I never paid much attention to until I left. But I have come to a realization that it's these memories which are the source of my inspiration. " Mubiru says of his work with a sad smile.
Mubiru's modern works of traditional and contemporary African art.
Oil on Canvas painting "Mother". Photo courtesy of John Mubiru.
In Mubiru's work we gain an amazing insight into day-to-day activities into lives of a people who are rich in color, culture and tradition. Photos courtesy of Mubiru archives.
Click here African Paintings to see more of Mubiru's work.