Interview with the Artist
What’s your background (tell us about you family and how you grew up)?
I was born in 1992 in a town called Kawempe a suburb of Kampala. I grew up in Namasuba with my Father (Mr. Philemon Bugembe), my step mother (the late Resty Nakafero), my young step sister (Joan Bugembe) and a youngest step brother (Mike) who used to stay with his mother whom they shared with Joan. In 2002, my lovely step mom died of HIV and Joan had to go back to her mom and her brother Mike and I stayed with my father.
In 2003, at age 11, I believed Christ as my personal savior and also joined a church called Omega Healing Center. At that time, things were not good with my family. It had broken apart, my father had lost his job, and also he was struggling with HIV. I also was out of school because there was no money for school fees.
In 2004 I joined sponsorship organization which was and still is within Omega Healing Center called Tender Mercies Intentional Ministries where I got a sponsor and a mother, Mrs. Denise Burchett. Her family provided for my school fees and all I needed. By then I had joined Blessed Valley Primary school for my primary grades six and seven. After the four years in a secondary school called Nkoowe High, I went to Naggenda international Academy of Art and Design In 2009, where I graduated with my Fine Arts Certifications in 2012.
What role does the artist have in society?
I believe we are all artists. For example, one can design arrange their living room in a way that it may amaze the guests. In the process, that person is doing art so; he or she is an artist.
When we rewind back in the early days were civilization began, the first form of writing was hero graphic, where by pictures or images were used to tell stories and to pass on information which is regarded as communication. Today we know about the ancient kings and queens of the world because of the artists who existed in those days.
Take a look at the road signs which help drivers today. Posters, billboards for advertisements and sensitization. Paintings, sculptures and calving for expression, impression, beauty, study purposes and so on. Magazines, news papers ,text books, in it we see art. You may look at science as an option but it requires a professional architectural artist to design a beautiful spaceship body. Before the Master Artist designed the world, the Bible says in Genesis 1:2 “now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of the Lord was hovering over the waters.”
This is the same case when I have a blank canvas; it is formless, empty and darkness over the surface of the deep. Now just imagine if there were no artists in the world!
What type of art do you most identify with?
I do a lot of art but I mostly identify myself with African art.
What work do you most enjoying doing?
I enjoy paintings and mosaics the most.
What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?
The strongest memory of my child hood is when my father was so sick and one day it was really bad. During the night, he got an attack and it was like something pulling him out of his body. This time I thought he was dying! I screamed but there was no help. I remember that was the first day I went down on my knees and prayed to God.
What themes do you pursue in art?
In art, I pursue themes like African women and children, love, politics, religion and beliefs and African culture.
What’s a favourite art work of yours?
In my secondary school, I helped my friends to do fabric design. In our finals everyone got credits and distinctions.
The truth is that I’m a kind of person who finds it very difficult to open up to people, though I have many friends. My history and what I passed through with my father and how I ran to people and I was rejected, created a very deep wound which left a big scar on my heart. I find art as the best way to open up, forget the past and share with others.
What memorable responses from others have you had to your work?
Most people like my work. They appreciate it and I have had more requests for a website.
What do you dislike about the art world?
In most cases art is so expensive to make, not only in terms of money, but also in the time you invest in patience and strength. Another thing is that in my country Uganda, people do not appreciate art. I hate that.
What do you like about your work?
What I like about my work is that it is original, it is the real me when I look at it. I don’t need to paint like any other artist, although some want to paint like me. My work brings out the inside thoughts of me which I cannot explain in words. It helps me share God’s love and change people’s lives.
Name something you love, and why.
I love God so much because he is the major reason why I’m an artist. He is my roll model. And I’m sorry to say, Guess what!--- We are all in the same business of designing and creating things.
What is your dream project?
My dream project is to open up a school in Uganda which will help all children who have different special abilities and to develop them and change the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The biggest advice I have ever been given is to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.
What would you call your style in art?
I would call my style in art “Bugembe”-- for it describes me and my work.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
Yes, many times I have felt like giving up. As I told you before, in Uganda people do not seem to appreciate art. It reaches time that if you don’t get to see tourists or friends from a foreign country, you may not get a chance to sell anything!
How long have you been painting/drawing/etc?
I have been making art (mostly drawings) since childhood. I used to be so interested in drawing cartoons like superman, batman and wrestling stars. I made my first painting on canvas in 2006. For almost the whole of my life I have been doing art.
Name: Brian Bugembe