Art in the Diaspora

Kansiime Brian Lister Talks “Threads of Time” & Familial Representation through Painting 

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Ugandan artist Kansiime Brian Lister tells stories that connect the past and present, one canvas  at a time. Lister’s studio based in the capital city of Kampala is his refuge, a place where he  develops and fine tweaks his ideas until the compositions are brought to life with his paintbrush.  Intentional strokes of oil paint, built in layers come together in a meticulous arrangement, to  create figurative paintings in the style of realism. 

Glimpses of Eternity, Oil on canvas, 35 x 35 inches, 2024
Image courtesy of Mitochondria Gallery

Lister draws inspiration from those around him. His sisters and friends are often represented in  his work as they have been his greatest cheer leaders and support system during his pursuits in  the arts.  

Still early in his professional career which commenced after graduating from Makerere  University, Kampala in 2019. Lister has participated in exhibitions and fairs across North  America, Asia, and Africa. His paintings from the “Timeless Echoes” series have received a  warm welcome from the art world. These paintings are executed in a style that fuses elements  of classical and contemporary realism in a manner that creates a visual singularity unique to Lister. His subjects are juxtaposed with sculptures, paintings, and artifacts from the early to  middle periods of the Modern Era.

Layers of Identity, Oil on canvas, 39 x 47 inches, 2024 
Image courtesy of Mitochondria Gallery

Kansiime has put together a solo exhibition titled “Threads of Time” featuring works from the  “Timeless Echoes” series. For Lister, this exhibition is about a journey of self-discovery, allowing  oneself the grace to experiment and refine their vision, while telling stories that reflect on our  humanity.

Heritage of Strength, Oil on canvas, 27 x 27 inches, 2024 
Image courtesy of Mitochondria Gallery

His subjects are positioned indoors, they are postured standing, sitting, or laying in rooms that  are warm and reminiscent of times past. A huge inspiration for Brian in creating the  compositions of these rooms was his visit to the Louvre Museum. It renewed his interest and  appreciation of paintings, and sculptures from the Old Masters of art. Some of the ornately  framed paintings in the rooms created by Lister are an ode to painters that have inspired his  practice.

Interwoven Narratives, Oil on canvas, 35 x 35 inches, 2024 
Image courtesy of Mitochondria Gallery

The titles of Lister’s paintings are very intentional, as they provide clues to the underlying  messages Lister emits through his work.  

Kansiime states , “Through this process, I learned the importance of weaving together diverse  influences and perspectives to create a cohesive and impactful body of work. I discovered that  every detail, from the choice of garments to the placement of objects, contributes to the  overarching narrative and emotional resonance of the artwork. Ultimately, the biggest lesson I’ve  learned is that art has the power to transcend time and space, connecting us to the stories of  the past while illuminating the path forward. It is a constant evolution, a reflection of our  humanity, and a timeless echo that resonates with the soul.” Threads of Time, is on view from April 15th through May 4th at Mitochondria Gallery, located in  the east downtown district of Houston, Texas.

Timi Etebu is a writer based in Houston, Texas. His interests are in amplifying the voices of artists from Africa and the African Diaspora. He is the founder of Mitochondria Gallery.

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