Henry Mujunga, known in art circles as Mzili, was born in 1971. In 1996 he graduated with honours from Margaret Trowel School of Industrial Fine Art (MTSIFA) of Makarere University. He is also a holder of a Postgraduate Diploma in Education of the same University.
Mzili is an eclectic artist who enjoys painting, sculpture, printmaking and performance art. Throughout his career, he has been exploring intuitive ways of reviving African art through an art movement called 'indigenous expressionism'.
In his most recent body of work presented at the exhibition CROWD CONTROL – six degrees of separation- Afriart Gallery Kampala, Mzili continues his preoccupation with people and the relationships that link or separate them. More than in earlier work however, the emphasis lies on moments of leisure, and especially events of entertainment and cultural production in which mass consumption is key. Mzili creates snapshots in time in a literal as well as figurative sense: borrowing from photographs he takes at concerts and parties, he transforms the captured moment with various alienating painterly strategies. The subject selection, the enhancement of certain light settings, a painterly disassociation of people’s faces, and, most importantly, the artist’s use of an audacious color palette, give each painting a particular mood. This atmosphere is strangely mute. It is as if one stood in the club with plugs in their ears or a sound-sealing glass wall in front of them, separating one from the crowd. Although the light and colors create a supersaturated scenery in which the individuals are partly identifiable, but at times also merge into a semi-abstract mass of color fields, they seem at a distance, apart from the viewer, as if s/he had a hazed perception. A state of tipsiness or a modest high come to mind in which everything is under control yet perceived more acutely and more distantly at the same time. Although the title of the exhibition suggests that everything is not more than six steps away from each other, many of the paintings also seem to scrutinize this claim of familiarity and functioning social networks just because they place the viewer into the somewhat isolated position of the observer.
Mzili is the prestigious winner of the coveted Royal Overseas League (ROSL) art scholarship 2003. He has exhibited his work in galleries in East Africa, West Africa as well as UK, Germany, Italy, France and The Netherlands.
Image rights: Henry Mzili Mujunga
Afriart Gallery Kampala
About Henry Mzili Mujunga
Ugandan, b. 1971, Kampala, Central Region, Uganda, based in Kampala, Central Region, Uganda