What you need to know:
- This is Tindi’s first exhibition in many years, and thus, while planning, he said he wanted a body of work that would be different in theme, process, and appearance. Thus, his paintings are collages of fabric and colour layers on canvas.
If there is one group of highly misunderstood people living in Uganda, it could probably be the Dinka from South Sudan.
“I have heard people say they are rude. But when you think about it, we all get annoyed at one point. It is just that we show it differently,” said Ronnie Chris Tindi on Saturday at Xenson’s Art Space in Kamwokya, where he opened his exhibition, Shadow of The Dinka, dedicated to the people whose existence he says goes beyond the borders of South Sudan.
This is Tindi’s first exhibition in many years, and thus, while planning, he said he wanted a body of work that would be different in theme, process, and appearance. Thus, his paintings are collages of fabric and colour layers on canvas.
“When I was growing up, my mother was a tailor, and after making different clothes, she always asked us to burn the little cloth cuttings that remained, and at times we would not burn it all. My technique of using fabric cuttings was largely born from that experience,” he said.
But in appearance, Tindi is not into realism; he is mostly an abstract artist. Most abstract often artists tend to take advantage of the backgrounds of their paintings to bust into bright colours to give the pictures more life or simply make them eye-catching.
He wanted to go for a plain colour and yet keep the background interesting, that is when he introduced shadows in his technique. All paintings about the Dinka on display have visible shadows behind them.
The shadows help to break the colour monotony in all the paintings since they are naturally dark and imposing. But besides breaking the colour monotony with ease, Tindi says they are symbolic as well.
“A shadow is usually the truest story of you because it is with you wherever you go. In this exhibition, the shadows shed a light on their struggles with displacement, conflict, and discrimination,” he says.
Most such exhibitions done about a group by people who do not belong to it are faced with allegations of stereotyping and cultural appropriation. Tindi, however, noted that he worked with two Dinka friends who helped him get a number of things right, but above all, he intended the artwork to represent the Dinka and Africa at large.
Thus, he carefully chose an assortment of vibrant and textured kitenge fabrics because various regions across Africa associate them with it. These fabrics reflect the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the continent, featuring bold patterns, intricate designs, and a multitude of colours. Each fabric has been meticulously arranged on the canvas, forming a visually striking mosaic.
The collage represents the Dinka, and the artist has skillfully incorporated an oil painting of dark human figures who are the shadows. The paintings depict individuals of different ages, genders, and backgrounds, symbolising the diversity and unity of the Dinka The artist employed a realistic painting style, paying close attention to the intricate details of each figure’s features, such as height and long fingers.
In fact, the most captivating aspect of the painting lies in the artist’s portrayal of the hands. In a deliberate exaggeration, the hands of the figures have been magnified in size and emphasised with bold brushstrokes.
The overall composition of the artwork is balanced and harmonious, with the collage and oil painting complementing each other seamlessly. The juxtaposition of the vibrant cloth fabrics against the realistic portrayal of the figures creates a dynamic and engaging visual experience.
The artist says the use of colourful fabric was intended to celebrate their love for colour.