Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga (Ugandan, b. 1971)
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Henry ’Mzili’ Mujunga’s portraits feature numerous, seemingly disparate objects brought together into a single frame. They are set in intimate spaces where highly personal interactions take place – often combining several such spaces into one – with titles that the describe the interactions within the paintings themselves, and at the same time allude to external associations. Mzili’s gathering of objects, spaces, and the existing associations with these objects mimics the processes of identity-making that he observes in his native Uganda. Individuals often rely on their outward appearance, their possessions, even their environments (and their interactions within them) to communicate their own vision of themselves. At the same time these very things are looked upon by others to identify those around them. Through these information-packed autobiographical compositions, Mzili offers a glimpse into his personal history and present. In addition, they become, for the viewer, a point of departure from which to begin building an understanding of identity in present-day urban Kampala.
Renowned as a painter and printmaker, intermingles traditional visual forms, African art histories and modern techniques and approaches to art making. Over the course of a career spanning more than two decades he has been an advocate of what he refers to as ‘indigenous expressionism’. In 2003, Mzili was a winner of the Royal Overseas League (ROSL) Art Scholarship. He has exhibited extensively in galleries in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, the UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands. Mzili is a cofounder of Kampala Arts Trust.