Paulo Akiiki is a contemporary African artist-painter, and is widely exhibited both locally and internationally
Paulo spent most of his youth in his native countryside, a vast area marked by varying bright, dry or lush green plains with dazzling sunlight and spectacular views on huge, shining lakes, light purplish blue skies, hazy hills and dark mountain ranges in the far distance. As a four-year old boy he already started scribbling and drawing on everything he saw.
Later, Paulo pursued Painting, Sculpture and Graphics at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts of the prestigious Makerere University Kampala. He successfully, and with honors, emerged with a Bachelors Degree in Industrial and Fine Arts, in 1998.
Soon after his studies, Akiiki became a productive member of the Uganda Artists Association. He registered his own business, the Ujuzi Art Studios, in his country's capital Kampala, and has since been practicing from there.
Paulo's Speciality and Style
Artistically speaking, Akiiki is trying to amalgamate his African Art experiences and drive with Western concepts and techniques. In Akiiki's own words: "My blending of two artistic traditions seeks to make a new unified, sensitive whole". From his international debut - in the Pan African Art Exhibition (1994) - onwards, Paulo experimented and produced with various media. Now, he predominantly paints with oils, acrylics and sometimes pastels.
Akiiki's subject matter portrays both modern and traditional life - the latter being dominant. Against a background of whirlpools of colours and light Akiiki's oils on canvas and acrylics-on-board suggest his village's traditional occupations, farming scenes, manners and customs, cattle and all kinds of everyday events.
Reconstructing details with the help of his imagination, and his recall of concomitant feelings, Akiiki uses a rather bold and highly personal technique of palette knife, comb, fingers and often bold brush and palette knife strokes, notably influenced by several elements of the African Aesthetics: he seldom portrays particular people or actual animals. Rather, he aims to present his artistic ideas about reality, spiritual or human, and express these ideas through animal or human images - especially via elongated, youthful female figures whose striking self-composure underlines that they are controlled, proud, and dignified.
Simultaneously going through the phase of almost naive, semi-abstract African storytelling in his oils-and-acrylics-on-board, Akiiki's canvases breath a mix of tradition and modernism in less tangible ways. They can be grouped into two, clearly distinguishable classes according to the range, hue and intensity of colors used. Striking are Akiiki's applications in bold impasto; the more so, when those thick layers of pigment, applied with a palette knife, are combined with thin glazes of brush strokes.