Theresa Musoke (Ugandan b. 1944)
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Theresa Musoke is one of Uganda and East Africa’s foremost artists. Musoke considers herself a semi-abstract painter and is best known for her expressive portrayals of the region’s abundant wildlife, using a range of mediums to develop her imagery. Musoke’s paintings are suggestive rather than realistic, merging the forms, colours and movements of animals with their environments. Her technique involves with dying her cotton canvases randomly, first, and then painting on them. The dye stains suggest forms on which she works with acrylic and oil paints until they resolve into a unified composition.
Musoke’s first began to receive attention while she was an undergraduate student at the Margaret Trowell School of Fine Arts at Makerere University in Kampala, where she won the Margaret Trowell Painting Prize in 1965 and received a solo show at the Uganda Museum. After she received her BA, Musoke worked for some time as an art teacher before receiving a scholarship to study for a postgraduate diploma in printmaking the Royal College of Art in London. Following this, she went on to complete and MFA at the University of Pennsylvania.
Musoke has been a highly influential figure in Kenyan and Ugandan art, not only for her celebrated visual practice, but also as a teacher. After completing her studies, Musoke returned to live in East Africa, living first in Kampala where she taught and Makerere University, before relocating to Kenya in 1976. She lived in Kenya for over 20 years and taught at different institutions including the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, the International School of Kenya, and Kestrel Manor School. Throughout all this, she exhibited frequently in local galleries such as Paa Ya Paa, Gallery Watatu and the African Heritage House. She was also active in Nairobi’s art scene and facilitated numerous informal workshops to help young artists to develop new technical skills. She currently lives in Kampala, where she continues to create art.