We’ve read so much about this Ugandan artist who moved into paper collage because of poverty. His story is a moving tale of resilience against dreadful difficulties, and much like his life, each one of his artwork is the fruit of a struggle.
Broke and unable to afford paint, Lutaaya turned to what was readily available: the paper scavenged from Kampala’s streets by Ugandan homeless children whom he had befriended.
I’d go around the streets looking for paper because I couldn’t afford paint. I was in tears in my small space trying to create work that could get me out of there.
He took up art in high school and acquainted himself with the visual arts and its history by reading self-help books . The more he read these books, the more he realized that only through art could he find his way out of the laid-back, quotidian equatorial life that was reflected everywhere he looked.
Illustrating the fragility of life from his own personal experiences, his art is about capturing the deepest feelings of a subject. To him, it is important to strive to see beyond the surface.
Through his work, he finds expression for emotions shared by many, especially those living on the fringes of the mainstream society. The abstract imagery in his collages represents the act of survival while the text, often obscure, stresses questions of identity within society.
Paper collage and painting as well as blending the two. When he’s painting, he mixes his colours on papers, then applies colour onto the canvas in a rather crude way using found objects, such as telephone cards, working wet in wet till the artwork is finished. The process is intense and exciting to observe. Later, when he’s not painting, he goes back to those papers, and use them to create collage artworks.
Lutaaya had his breakthrough and has now significantly contributed to a number of worthy arty and social causes through his firm belief that art can confront barriers, empower dreams and change lives. He is the founder of Benon Lutaaya Foundation, a charity organization dedicated towards changing the lives of young, disadvantaged children in his home country Uganda.
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