Allan Kyakonye

Kyakonye holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Fine Arts from Makerere University. He started his professional practice in 2013 as an illustrator with publishing houses in Uganda. In 2017, he participated in a workshop that later lead to a group exhibition Surfaces. In 2018, attended a residence at 32° East. He participated in the 2018 Kampala art biennale as an apprentice.
He has since 2019 engaged in projects that seek artists’ development through professional consultations. In 2021 he led a collaborative exhibition named Museum of Selves with several artists.
Kyakonye’s work engages with cultural identity, spirituality, and political history.
His works comprising The Egg Portrait series chose the oval shape as their primary framework. The egg, a universal symbol for beginnings (whether in cosmogonic myths or in the more direct sense of capsules for new life) delivers the backdrop for the personalities the artist depicts using egg tempera of his own making. The portraits of queens, kings, politicians, and other decisive leaders appear in a medallion, in and of itself a symbol of power since the Renaissance. They form the centerpiece of large “canvases” made from aluminum foil, a material the artist
collected from an early age in the hope to sell it to scrap dealers – without success – and which he later started incorporating into his art practice. It is kind of telling that Kyakonye chooses material that, through his practice of collecting without even knowing why (as the initial hope to sell it was crushed by the scrap dealers’ utter lack of interest in the valueless foil), attaches an autobiographical dimension to his work, playfully intertwines portraits of important historical figures with ancestral symbolism and material experimentations that contain hidden inscriptions of his personal biography… He fixes layered pieces of crumpled foil onto canvas and treats it with fire causing the material to discolor in different shades. The use of fire creates another allusion to the proverbial meaning of his name, Kyakonye. In a subtle move, the portraits cease to be solely of “historical figures” and start creating invisible bridges across time and space, opening up a multiplicity of pathways for imagination and story-telling.

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