On the walls of Yego Art Center are three acrylic on canvas paintings of three zebras in different colours apart from the normal white and black stripes, which colour the normal skin of the animal called, Zebra Series.
These inspirational pieces can be found on an 18x70cm pieces by self-taught visual artist, Charles Tuyisenge, an artist at the Kimihurura based art centre.
“I like zebras because they embody the character of coolness. Zebras are naturally nice and friendly animals that have no quarrel with any other species of animals. Human beings should copy this trait so that we can all live in peace and harmony,” says Tuyisenge as he introduces me to several of his paintings, abstract, semi-abstract and realism paintings that decorate the walls of Yego.
Another thing that is unique about Tuyisenge’s paintings is that he manages to embellish them by the use of a series of buttons and sand, a technique he says is testimony to how human beings are always close with nature (sand) and craft (buttons).
Three Seasons, a semi-realism acrylic on canvas, lies on a 50x70cm canvas. It’s also a painting of zebra divided into three sections.
The uppermost part covers the ears of the zebra, the middle part the body, while the lower part covers the legs.
But he explains that the purpose of dividing the animal, by a strip of tape and button, was to showcase the seasonal nature of the wild.
“This was my fourth (painting of) zebra since I joined Yego in 2014. The others have been sold and this one reminds me of the remarkable journey I’ve gone through since I made the decision to have my artwork marketed through Yego,” he adds.
However, Tuyisenge’s artwork is not all about the zebras. The End of Drought, a 100x 140 semi-abstract piece, depict an elephant with her baby migrating from dry land, shown by rich use of red and orange colours, to the bounty of green pastures that’s depicted with the use of green colours. Again, he does not use the natural grey colour of the elephant but a mish-mash of colours.
“I want to create unique portraits of these animals, and that’s why I use different colours. As an artist, you have to be imaginative and create something extraordinary, not what we normally see in life. This brings boredom,” he explains on his experiment with colours to paint these animals.
Fashion, a 100x140cm painting, is a giant shoe in red and black. The artist explains that this reminds him of his childhood when the kind of canvas shoe was the in-thing.
“I used to see these kinds of shoes when I was young and I decided to immortalize my childhood memory by sketching and painting it. There was a time when the shoes were in vogue back in Uganda where I grew up.
Tuyisenge says that art runs in his blood, from his mother’s side. He adds he always saw his mother doing several artworks like embroidery while his maternal grandfather was a famous sculptor in his hey days. All his eight siblings are artists on their own merit, though he hastens to explain that he’s the only one who has taken art as a serious profession.
The 30-year-old explains that even though he was a prodigious artist from his young days in primary school where teachers, seeing his drawing talent, used to engage him in drawing maps and figures on the blackboard, it was when he reached Senior One at Rubiri Secondary School in Kampala, Uganda in 1994 that he actually polished his art skills.
“We had three courses called Still Life where you drew any object you saw using a pencil, Nature where you were expected to draw living things like cockroaches and feet of animals, and Living Person where a person could pose in front of a group of artists and for two hours we were expected to draw the image of the person. These really polished my skills in drawing and made me bring my talent in art to bear,” he explains. He further refined his art skill when he joined university.
Tuyisenge says that he now does art as a side hassle since most of his time is taken by interior design and construction. He is the proprietor of Big Homes Ltd, an interior design and construction firm.