Inside the spacious art gallery at National Theatre, Weazher, a young artist, guides me through the paintings on display. We pause before another of his colorful pieces. Others can I can, the title tag reads. The canvas, painted in vivid shades of blue, depicts two apes, one of which blows a horn while its companion in the background munches berries and seems to enjoy the tune. I study the painting in puzzlement. As if reading my mind, my guide chuckles and comments that even animals, like humans, have a sense of music too. With a more serious tone, he further explains the mysterious piece, “Nature is part of beauty. And gorillas are part of nature.”
Richard “Weazher” Mayanja is October’s artist of the month. Dressed smartly in white long sleeves and black pants, the short, bearded young artist carries a humble demeanor that completely belies his abilities. With a total of more than four art exhibitions in his short career, Weazher is no ordinary artist.
As we proceed along the canvas-hung walls, I discover that nearly all of his artworks have an element of music or nature. Two or three paintings, for instance, show still-life collections of traditional musical instruments. In one corner, a solitary portrait of Bob Marley, his work too, stares sideways at yet another abstract creation titled “Fish.” The theme of Weazher’s exhibition, “Beauty in Music,” has been well-portrayed in these colorful twenty-or-so images. The exhibition runs from 15 October to 6 November 2011.
The artist studied art at Michelangelo School of Creative Arts and attained a diploma in Art and Design in 2008. Currently he is pursuing a degree in art and industrial design at Kyambogo University Kampala.
Asked when he first discovered the talent in him, Weazher proudly reminisces, “At about the age of six. During art lessons at school, I loved molding with clay and drawing and shading with colored pencils.”
But visual art isn’t Weazher’s only passion. During our interview, a group of five or six youths carrying guitars storm the gallery and accost us. Weazher introduces them as “The Hydrobase,” his music band. Time for practice, a tall dreadlocked feller reminds him. The artist borrows the boy’s guitar and asks them to wait outside for five minutes, we won’t be long. Reposing the acoustic skillfully on his lap, he plucks a familiar tune. I am enthralled. He plays for twenty seconds, with such passion he seems momentarily oblivious to my presence. Stopping abruptly, he apologises. But I have made another discovery: Weazher doesn’t just paint music, he plays it too!
“Where did you learn to play?” I ask.
“At music school,” he discloses in his humble manner. “Before I went to Michelangelo. I have a diploma in music.” He adds that he has worked with different NGOs in Uganda as a director of performing arts. “My skills at playing various musical instruments have made me a complete artist,” he boasts. “Or artist-artist, as my friends like to call me.”
Among other exhibitions, Weazher has participated in the International Women Organisation Christmas exhibition (2009) and, in the same year, the Independence Day exhibition at Nommo Gallery. Last year, his work featured in the All Artists Exhibition and again at the 49th Independence Day exhibition, both of them held at Nommo. He hopes to participate in this year’s exhibition too. In May 2010, he held a solo academic exhibition at Kyambogo University. This month, prior to the CAF Qualifiers match between Uganda and Kenya, Weazher took part in the “Together for Cranes” exhibition at Nambole National Stadium. The price of his work is quite affordable, ranging from 75 to 300 US Dollars.
About his future plans, Weazher reveals that he is experimenting with a new style of art. Because of his love for the preservation of nature, this novel technique dubbed “functional sculpture” seeks to utilize plastic waste. Bottles of mineral water and polythene bags, he says, can make functional sculpture in the form of fountains, outdoor seats, lamp posts etc. Also he plans on a grand exhibition next year, to be combined with a music launch.
As the interview is concluded his time-conscious troupe materializes again. He is whisked away, barely allowing us to say farewells.