Eria Solomon Nsubuga also known as ‘SANE’, born 1979, is a contemporary Ugandan painter, illustrator, sculptor and art lecturer. An active practicing artist since 1999 currently pursuing his PHD at University of Southampton, Eria has had several successful solo and group shows and his work is enjoyed on virtually all continents of the world. He is a social artist choosing to study the climate of politics, allocation of resources, morality and spirituality. Some writers and scholars refer to him as a political artist.
In SANE’s latest work, he makes drawings with pen and pencil on text collage backgrounds to depict the African power struggles between kingdoms, religion, modern day celebrities and politicians. He juxtaposes by appropriation, sometimes in comical fashion, and other times in a sardonic way, the uneasy visual placement of situations of power alliances made between erstwhile enemies, nemeses and friends. Present day leaders stand side by side, or front to back in playful or at times critical ways with African kings and various local and exotic personalities to serve the purpose of placing commentary on present day African politics not as isolated events but as functions or even outcomes of histories and legacies of the past.
In this series, Sane looks at African kingdoms like Buganda in the 1800’s when the colonizer came in the disguise of Christianity. Much as King Muteesa 1 of Buganda kingdom received them very well because of the gifts they brought, his grandson later King Mwanga 2 in 1885 ordered the killing of his subjects who had converted to Christianity. The deaths took place at a time when there was a three-way religious struggle for political influence at the Buganda royal court. The episode also occurred against the backdrop of the “Scramble for Africa” – the invasion, occupation, division, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers. A few years after, the English Church Missionary Society used the deaths to enlist wider public support for the British acquisition of Uganda for the Empire. The Catholic Church beatified the martyrs of its faith in 1920 and canonized them in 1964.
Also important in this work is SANE’s depiction of Christ as an Africanized version of himself in adaptations of ‘La Pieta’ and ‘the Passion of the Christ’ drawing from photographs of personalities as well as Renaissance and post- Renaissance artist like Carravaggio. SANE actually uses his own portraits when depicting his version of Christ.
Why the severed heads or body parts? This is simply an attempt at dissection of the characters of the players similar in a way to Cherie Samba’s peeling of bodies like oranges. The peeling or dissection serves to reveal the inner parts of the characters.