Maria Naita (Ugandan, 1968 – 2019)
The Contestants, 2005
Signed ‘Naita’ (lower right)
Acrylic on canvas mounted on board
44.7 x 30.8 cm
US$ 1,000 – 2,000
Provenance: private collection
Sold US$ 822

One of Uganda’s most celebrated female artists, Maria Naita’s artistic journey began as a child, sculpting figures from Nile river clay, eventually leading her to pursue a formal education at Makerere University’s Margaret Trowell school of Industrial and Fine Art where she specialised in sculpture. Naita’s pieces (including several towering national monuments) built from clay, hardwood, brass and fibreglass, are both deeply rooted in the principles of realism and infused with a spiritual dimension transcending their masterful form. Her paintings, like her sculptures, breathe life into social commentary, namely around the many faces of women in Ugandan culture, mythology and traditional family life. She has described her technical abilities as in themselves of little consequence if not backed by what she called the ‘African consciousness’ with no tangible dimension, which her primary intention and challenge has been to attempt to express through her practice.

Naita was also deeply involved in community projects and initiatives to nurture emerging talent and promote Ugandan art on the global stage, such as establishing the KANN Artists studio in 2005.