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Xenson’s first-ever institutional and solo exhibition in Nairobi

April 4 - July 13, 2024 | Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute, Nairobi




Courtesy of Xenson and Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI)
Courtesy of Xenson and Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI)

Olidde Mupipa is Xenson’s first-ever solo exhibition in Nairobi and his first institutional exhibition in East Africa. With an emphasis on sculpture and installation, this exhibition brings together six newly produced works which broaden Xenson’s exploration of objects and materials, and the stories they tell about the specific cultural contexts from which they are drawn. 

“At the end of the day, whatever I do, the nucleus is these objects and how they begin to tell the story. From Uganda, Kenya, East Africa, and then incorporating these other sensibilities of the world.” - Xenson, 2024

 

‘Olidde mupipa’ (Luganda) is an idiomatic expression that translates to ‘you have eaten from the barrel (the dustbin)’. The phrase implies that one has arrived too late for something that they have to make do with leftovers.





More specifically, the expression refers to the steel drums, which are used for storing and transporting various liquid substances. Often these barrels are resold and repurposed for different uses, including storage for alternative substances/materials (such as rubbish), and they are also broken down to produce other functional objects such as troughs and karayi. In his practice, Xenson has adopted these steel barrels, and their offshoots, as a support for painting and as building blocks for the sculptures and installations that make up this exhibition.

 

Xenson has long been fascinated by language and its capacity to preserve and communicate cultural experiences. This fascination extends to his engagement with different objects, mining them for their illustrative, associative, and idiomatic potential. It has informed the development of the sculptures and installations featured in Olidde Mupipa, constructed using commonplace objects such as sigiri (charcoal-burning stoves) and pipa (steel barrels). By reconfiguring these objects, he transforms their everyday utility to foreground their physical and formal characteristics. However, the knowledge of their use in everyday life remains central to the work, as this knowledge provides an entry point for considering their pasts within local, regional, and global cycles of production, distribution, and the consumption of goods and labour. 


Courtesy of Xenson and Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI)
Courtesy of Xenson and Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI)

 

ABOUT XENSON


Xenson (Samson Ssenkaaba, b. 1978) is a Kampala-based multimedia artist who uses sculpture, installation, performance, poetry, fashion, and painting to engage with questions of identity, consumerism and global circulation of culture against a backdrop of a dystopian postcolonial present. He deliberately deploys a candied aesthetic of vivid colours and graphic patterns, simultaneously enabling and rejecting identification with his subjects, aiming for visual narratives which reflect the complexity of contemporary culture. Xenson often uses found and recycled materials, responding directly to what his environment offers him and integrating his work into global discourses surrounding humanity's impact on the natural environment. Similarly, his upbringing and childhood memories inform his use of organic and natural materials such as barkcloth. There is, in this, a commitment to preserving indigenous knowledge and expressions whilst applying these aesthetics in contemporary use.


Xenson has exhibited at the Amasaka Gallery, Masaka, Uganda (2023), Afriart Gallery, Uganda (2022), BISO, Biennale Internationale de Sculpture de Ouagadougou (2019), KLA Art (2012, 2014), Makerere Art Gallery (2016), Circle Art Agency, Kenya (2016), Instituto Buena Bista - Curacao (2014), Deveron Projects, Huntly, Scotland (2014), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, USA (2014), and the Kampala Art Biennial (2016). He received his BFA from the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University, in 2000. Xenson is the founder of Xenson Art Space, a multidisciplinary curated space in Kamwokya, Kampala, aimed at nurturing the new creative generation and providing a space for artists to exhibit and showcase their work.


 

ABOUT FRESCO GALLERY


Fresco Gallery is a contemporary art gallery with a distinct focus on original prints and editions by emerging and established African artists. Since its establishment in 2022, the Gallery has showcased and collaborated with artists from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and the African diaspora, fostering connections across various African cities.


At the heart of Fresco's philosophy is artist collaboration and accessibility for collectors. Our mission is to encourage a new generate of art enthusiasts while advocating for the integration of prints and edition-making within the realm of contemporary African art. Operating primarily online, with periodic physical exhibitions, Fresco Gallery is based in Lagos, Nigeria.


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Xenson’s first-ever institutional and solo exhibition in Nairobi

April 3, 2024

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