Name: Ocom Adonias Ekuwe
Profession: Painter/ Artist
Location: Uganda/ Kampala
The figurative artist and photographer Ocom Adonias, was born in Kireka in 1989. As his first tutors, his father and elder brother introduced him into the world of arts and greatly inspired him. His love for sculpture and painting evolved in Namilyango College and was heightened at St. Henry’s College Kitovu. In 2013 he graduated from Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts at Makerere University as a water colour major. The education at this school greatly influenced him as he learnt about the art and language movement of great artists such as George Kyeyune and Taga Nuwagaba.
Currently painting from Karewu Art Studio, he is working majorly in oils, watercolour and some other medium such as acrylics. His work engages in the realistic presentation of the lives of the common man and his heritage. The underlying intention is to tell stories about his experiences and the lives of people that he has met. His interest in the common man has led to current artistic research about his heritage and to the founding of his latest painting series “Karamoja Teso,” a project which is aiming to research and conserve the heritage. About his artistic base, Ocom says, “My work is a journey of exploration in which other travelers are essential. An art of healing.”
Ocom has worked as a photographer too before he decided to concentrate on his painting career. He has participated in third CSO exhibition at Hotel African after his graduation. In 2014 he participated in the Sadolin Mabarti Art Challenge and emerged a winner for which he was awarded an exhibition in the Uganda Museum. He also participated in KLAART 2014 where twenty young artists where chosen to do an art work on Uganda’s commonest means of transport the BodaBoda for which he engaged the Karamojong street beggars in a performance and was highly applauded for this by Uganda leading Magazines like the Independent Magazine. He wrapped up last year with a group Christmas exhibition at Makerere Art Gallery. He is also proud to have his work grace the cover of Uganda’s Arts Diary 2015. His work can be seen in Afriart Gallery and Diani Beach Art Gallery.
2015 Nude, Diani Beach Art Gallery, Momnbasa,Kenya
2014 Your world your colour, Sadolin Marbati Art Challenge Exhibition Uganda Museum, Kampala, Uganda
2014 Spiritual and Secular, Makerere Art Gallery, Kampala, Uganda
2014 The Boda Boda Project, KLAART 014 Contemporary Art Festival, Uganda
Feb – April, 32º East | Ugandan Arts Trust
October – December GoDown Art Centre
2014 3rd Place, Sadolin Marbati Art Challenge, Kampala, Uganda
2015 Depicting Karamoja on canvas, Saturday Monitor – Link
2014 No Stereotype for Ocom’s Karimojong, Independent Magazine – Link
2015 32º East | Ugandan Arts Trust
CREATIVE LIFE CYCLE
My fascination with creating was very evident in my early days, vivid memories of the bedroom walls I shared with my brothers are still clear. Our bedroom walls were covered with drawings from the movies we watched, something that always fascinated me. I loved going through my elder brother’s books to look at his drawings and this greatly inspired me to draw. The art lessons are the fondest memories in my Primary, my peers and teachers recognized my abilities and whenever there was need to assist in drawing study charts I was called upon. My first encounter with professional art was when I went to Kyambogo University Art Department and I always went back to peep at the students painting and gaze at the sculptures for long periods.
Joining a missionary secondary school had a huge impact on me since there were paintings, sculptures in every part of the compound. I got my first set of watercolour paints from a friend with whom I exchanged my edibles, roasted groundnuts to be specific. Equipped with my new set I made my first painting at the age of thirteen for which I got a lot of encouragement from my art teacher who presented me to the staff room as a promising artist. As any journey can’t go without hurdles I was faced with a huge dilemma to make a choice between French and Fine Art. I settled for French but kept sneaking back to art classes until I wrote a letter to the head of the art department saying that my future was in Art. These were great times in my formative stage for when I was given chance to do art again I knew I had made a life time decision.
Having been offered to do Art at Makerere University was the start of seeing a dream come true. I excelled in drawing, painting and sculpture after which I graduated as a watercolour major in 2013. Soon after graduation I worked as a photographer with Megapix the first digital photo studio in Uganda for a year and a half before making a decision to fully settle to paint.
In 2014, after I left my photography job I participated in a public art competition the Sadolin Marbati Art Challenge where I emerged a winner and I was awarded with an exhibition in the Uganda Museum. I was selected to participate among the twenty artists for another public art exhibition KLART 014. An experience that got me more recognised in the art scene in Uganda after my Installation Performance with the Karamojong beggars. As the year ended, a good review in the Independent Magazine about my paintings series Karamoja Teso was published and my painting, “My Brother’s Keeper”, graced the Uganda Arts Diary’s cover. An exhibition with master artists in Uganda at the Makerere Art gallery for the Christmas exhibition wrapped up the year.
Early 2015 I joined two established galleries in the region Afriart Gallery and Diani Beach Art Gallery which have helped in getting my paintings more recognition. Following my painting series Karamoja Teso I did an art residence at 32 East which got me more recognition after an article about my paintings in the national newspaper was published.
Currently I am exploring how new environment inspires my work and I am truly glad to have been part of this course which birthed a collaboration with an orphanage in Kibera for which will result into an exhibition. I believe with what I have learnt from this course I will able to fully pursue my dreams and make the world a better place with my brush and paint.
My vision is to provide visual diaries for the next generations of the Ateker (Karamojong, Turkana, Iteso, Toposa, and Nyangatom) to know about their cultures and heritages.
To use painting to preserve disappearing cultures and to teach the public the relevance of art in cultural preservation.
18 MONTH PLAN
Research extensively about the origins, cultural heritage of the Karamojong and Iteso.
Execute fifty paintings for my first solo exhibition based on my research
To build a strong network in the art market