THE KNIGHT. Ronex Ahimbisibwe is a prominent visual artist in with a career that spans 15 years. Edgar R. Batte spoke to him about his life and work, his perspective on relationships and the difference between love and lust.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I take a glass of water then brush my teeth
Why do you take a glass of water?
It is healthy and I feel alive when I take some water. My eating habits are not good, thus I take more water.
Why don’t you like to eat?
My appetite is not that strong but mainly I work mainly at night and wake up late. It could be because of my working habits.
Does your lady share the same pattern of habits?
I do not live with her, so she can do as she pleases.
Is she of the same profession as you?
No, she is not an artist.
Tell me a little more about you and her…
I am a very private person when it comes to relationships, even my social media platform has no image of her. It only carries photos of my work. She also likes it that way. On her social platforms, she does not have her photo.
Why do you two like to keep it private?
Relationships are a private matter. Why be public about a private issue?
Perhaps because you are a public person, we might want to poke our noses in your affairs…
I doubt if a visual artist is a public person in Uganda; maybe among the art fraternity which is a small group. Why give people that pleasure?
Would you say you are in love or deeply in love?
Give me your description of it...
Journalists…avoiding questions when they love asking them. Anyway, I do not believe in that word. It is a word that has been misused and defiled so I do not use it. What I know is I have a good friend whom I cherish.
In what way has love been misused, as a word?
Your questions are making me uncomfortable. I am not a fan of talking about those things but anyway, saying you love someone does not mean you do. They may be just words. Can people tell the difference between love, lust and obsession? I believe love is made up of those things you do together that matter, not the words said. Those things done together help create memories and it is those memories that may hold the relationship together in future.
Would you say that friendship is stronger than love as is perceived?
Personally, I believe friendship lasts and is stronger. Lust or desire may go but you still remain with a friend.
How do you tell an ordinary friend from a special friend like your cherished one?
Some things are hard to explain but you just know. Maybe we use the subconscious. It is like the wind. You feel it but cannot see it.
What do you do together as a couple, for fun?
Are you going to ask about art or... I told you I am a private person. Let us say we are together.
Do you believe love or friendship is an art in itself?
It requires some level creativity or else it starts getting boring. The problem is most women have certain expectations, probably got from those novels and television soap operas. They have certain guidelines to what they call love. If you do not follow their script then it is not love, according to them.
How have you managed to be creativeto keep things simmering?
First, you cannot be with an artist if do not love what the artist does. That relationship has no chance. She starts as a fan. We are that selfish as artists. She has to inspire you as an artist. That is why if someone is keen, they would see the girlfriends in the artist’s works.
How much have you incorporated her in your artistic works?
Not much but she is in some works. Remember, I am not much of a realist.
How has she inspired some of your work?
To try realism when I am not a realist.
What motivates you as an artist in terms of subjects?
Many times it is not the subject matter but the material. I am always trying to find out its possibilities. That is why my works are about technique and more experimental. That is why I have been accused of not being constant. My inconsistency is my consistency. I find it boring to do the same thing year in year out. I do not think creating means repetition.
Of your works, which ones have impacted on you and why?
The one I have not done. That is what keeps me exploring and experimenting.
What are you working on?
I am preparing for my show for January. In summary, I am calling it “memories AND”. It is a combination or collage of works I have done over years, call it a refix. I cut my works in smaller pieces and rearrange them. It is a painful yet exciting experience.
I like recycling but this time I am recycling my own works. What comes out is a new work with old works. The “And” are the new sculptures which I am also working on. In brief, it is a transition or one can trace my journey through the ages to date in those works. I am celebrating 15 years as an artist.
What are your plans for Christmas?
I do not even know. I do not celebrate my birthday. Why bother with that of a Hebrew?
“Art is not just a profession to me but my refuge and comfort...without it I seem lost”
“My desire has always been to create works that curiously blend in the fashion of the legendary double-edged sword: sophistication meeting naivete, chaos meeting order, beauty meeting ugliness, aesthetics meeting free expression.....
Ronex Ahimbisibwe, multi-media artist.