Ugandan-born artist Patrick Seruwu creating a piece of art. Picture: Patrick Seruwu
Ugandan-born artist Patrick Seruwu creating a piece of art. Picture: Patrick Seruwu

Wish we had this on our walls

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Oct 27, 2020

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Vivien Horler

Self-taught Ugandan-born artist Patrick Seruwu uses dripping paint as a metaphor for women’s tears of pain – and also for the tears they shed in moments of joy and success.

And now the artist who, inspired by his mother, focuses on creating canvases that embody women’s strength, will hold his first solo exhibition.

He has been painting since he was a child in Kampala, successfully entering many community art competitions. Now living in Johannesburg, he says the city inspires him.

Picture: Patrick Seruwu

“I use Johannesburg as a point of reference. Joburg is a cosmopolitan city that attracts people with all sorts of social, political, and cultural backgrounds. Many people come here from neighbouring African countries in search of work.

“And it is in this often deprived and overpopulated environment of Joburg that I see the strength of the women I come across in my daily life.”

Picture: Patrick Seruwu

His own dedication to his art has led to the exhibition, but he has also had the support of the Johannes Stegmann Mentorship Programme under the Lizamore Gallery. He explains the programme is designed to allow artists who are ready to enter the market at a professional level the opportunity to work under professional mentors over 12 to 15 months, culminating in the exhibition at Lizamore & Associates Gallery in Parkwood, Johannesburg, in November.

Picture: Patrick Seruwu

One of his mentors was the late prize-winning Ugandan artist Benon Lutaaya, whom he first met in Uganda and worked with again in Johannesburg until Lutaaya’s death in April last year. Seruwu uses charcoal drawing and acrylic painting on canvas, applied in the form of a wash.

“The washes mimic the constant wish that some women have to wash away certain experiences they have undergone in their lives. “My choice of colour is sepia or pink. This is both a reflection of the time that is needed for healing, as well as to portray the tension of women’s daily lives. The colours are the shades of old photographs or the colours of aging and rusting material.”

Picture: Patrick Seruwu

Most of his portraits are drawn in the form of bust figures, “…like the idealised eternal youth and strength of the Roman and Greek statues, which to me signifies pillars of strength”.

He draws inspiration from these figures, but adds that the women in his paintings are a more truthful representation of the real and everyday lives women lead.

Picture: Patrick Seruwu

* Lizamore & Associates annually host a mentorship programme which consists of three parts: the Johannes Stegmann Mentorship Programme, the Thami Mnyele Mentorship Prize and the Curatorial Mentorship Programme.

Since the Lizamore & Associates Mentorship Programme started in 2008, it has seen exponential growth. Launched with only R10 000 of seed funding from Rand Merchant Bank, the project has been realised with the full sponsorship of Lizamore & Associates and the voluntary time of committed artists, arts administrators and curators.

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