Lot 11 Samson ‘Xenson’ Ssenkaaba (Ugandan, born 1978), Matoke Farmer, 2016, at Art Auction East Africa 2019

Samson ‘Xenson’ Ssenkaaba (Ugandan, born 1978)
Matoke Farmer, 2016
Signed ‘Xenson 2016’ (lower left)
Mixed media on canvas
175.5 x 145.3 cm

Ksh 380,000–660,000
(US$ 3,500–6,000)
Sold Ksh 1,408,800

Provenance: direct from the artist

Fluent in many forms – painting, sculpture, installation, and performance – Samson Ssenkaaba, popularly known as Xenson, makes use of benign symbols borrowed from everyday life to engage with the complexities and contradictions of contemporary culture in his native Uganda. Works such as Matoke Farmer feature a juxtaposition of the playful and the sinister, which characterizes much of Xenson’s work. Vivid colours and graphic patterns in the figure’s tunic, underscored by the burst of yellow flowers surrounding it, belie the mischievous, possibly malevolent intent suggested by the balaclava. Atop the figure’s head, sits a bunch of matoke (green banana) growing from the body of an AK47, alluding to various forms of structural and institutional violence encountered in everyday life.

Xenson graduated with first class honours in Painting and Graphic Design from the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts at Makerere University in 1999. His practice since then has spanned the mediums of music, poetry, fashion and visual art, taking part in exhibitions and residencies worldwide including: Gunflowermask, Afriart Gallery, Kampala, 2017; Art Transposition, LKB/G Gallery, Hamburg, 2017; Kabbo Ka Muwala (The Girl’s Basket), Makerere Gallery, Kampala, 2016; Kampala Contemporary, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 2015; KLA Art 014, Kampala, 2014; The Lubare and the Boat, Deveron Arts, Scotland, 2014; and Africa Now: Fashioning Personhood, Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA, 2014.