The finished artistic works of award-winning Ugandan sculptor Ronald Odur are a product of aluminum plates, copper wires and acrylics. His experiment began in his living room where themes of his work embodied in aluminum printing plates are displayed.
He built a chandelier of twelve hundred cast aluminum bullets suspended from copper wires. It is not for decorative purposes but to carry an underlying message for political actors in Uganda, according to artforum.com. It is a creation of what he saw during the general elections campaigns in 2020 when security officials opened fire on unarmed civilians who were protesting on the streets of Uganda.
Odur’s residence was not left out of the military assault as the security officials left in their trail fumes from burning tires, tear gas, stray bullets and pepper spray. His room was filled with fumes. The only way he could speak about it was to institutionalize the injustice in art.
He has assembled other artistic work that speaks to social challenges bedeviling ordinary Ugandan citizens following the abuse of political power. This is represented by aluminum copies of Ugandan bank notes, a passport, a box of cigarettes and a bottle of moonshine gin.
The rest are a bible, a stone, and a 1990-shaped television set made of aluminum plates sitting in the interior of his room. These are the possessions of the ordinary citizen who struggles to eke out a living while the political class revel in the largesse of the poor. Odur illuminates these from the ocean-blue wall he has fixed in his room.
He describes this artistic work as Muwawa, which literally translates to “without care”. He uses it to critique the political class for providing cover for those who brutally murder citizens without retribution.
The Ugandan artist opted for aluminum printing plates and copper wires because he wants his work to stand out. He said his objective is to draw attention to the political and social dilemmas facing the people through his drawings, sculpture and installations, according to Africanah.
His works always have some striking themes that resonate with his audience. He could talk about religion and politics, and the next moment he could switch to social or personal issues. He said many are of the view his work carries political connotations. But the art critics are not far from wrong because the bane of Uganda has to do with how the political class has mismanaged the country, he said.
All in all, Odur chooses to express his sentiments through his art rather than hitting the street to protest all that is not right with the socio-economic fundamentals of the country.
Born in 1992 and raised in Kampala, Uganda, with an education from Kyambogo University, Odur’s work has been featured in various art exhibitions such as The Kampala Art Biennale curated by Simon Njami, and The Last Image Show, an international art exhibition in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.