A conversation between Thierry Goldberg Gallery and Doddridge Busingye
Thierry Goldberg: What was your first encounter with art and when did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Doddridge Busignye: My first encounter with art was in primary school. My older brother liked to draw and often I imitated him by tracing images in newspapers and making collages with magazine cutouts. I didn't realize I wanted to be an artist until high school. My Dad wanted me to be a lawyer, but by the time I finished high school I was already receiving commissions for portraits. When I applied to university I applied to law first and art second. I ended up getting into art school on a merit scholarship. My family wasn't happy but once I wasable to prove I could live off art my Dad bought three of my works and paid for my master's program.
TG: You are a painter as well as a sculptor. What makes a subject interesting to you?
DB: Sculpture has always been an escape. I get inspiration from the people I look up to, especially minimalist artists. With my portraiture, I unusually start by thinking of a concept I want to express. I strive to create works that have a deeper meaning with a simple entry point.
TG: What is your painting process like? How do you begin your work?
DB: I usually conceive of the title of the work first then, I figure out how I want to depict my figures to express this concept. I work from photography and manipulate images in photoshop until they fit my imagination. I used to create my own figures but have found it is easier for me to communicate my ideas when I am painting real people.
TG: Are you constantly learning new techniques?
DB: I have explored a lot. I realized that I could get lost in exploration. These days, I try to limit that process. I work so much with conception that when it comes to execution I am more interested in mastering a simple technique that works for me and can be easily repeated.
TG: Could you talk a bit more about your act of concept forming? Why is it important to you to express these concepts through your work?
DB: When I originally chose to become an artist I wanted to share my experiences growing up; my youth, my life challenges, and my community. I wanted to share people's struggles that I also felt attached to. I realized that didn't want to limit inspiration to what I know, as the world is getting globally local. I want my work to communicate something stronger and speak universally. I have found that statements from other artists such as poets, musicians, and filmmakers, can be extremely captivating especially in the way that they relate to my own experiences.
TG: In your portraits, you often choose to depict women. Who are these women? What factors do you take into consideration when choosing how to portray them?
DB: I came of age during the feminist movement in Uganda. I want my work to address these concerns of politics, gender, and equality. I usually work from photographs I take of my friends and family, but also work from photographs that I find and like. I think women are complicated and dimensional. They can pull off a range of facial expressions and emotions. They can show fragility and toughness all at once. I feel, by using female models, it is easier for me to portray the concepts I want to express in a more global way.
TG: The figures in your portraits are all depicted in a monochrome color palette of deep blue and surrounded by vibrant saturated colors. How did you arrive at this color pallet?
DB: I like using vibrant colors. I love the feel of blue in particular. I started doing colored portraits in 2019. At that time I was questioning color in the global sense. The colors of humanity. I wanted to use colors that are notalways segmented into questions of race. I am also color blind to certain colors and usually paint by value. So, Ichoose to work with colors that look good to my mind.
TG: In works like Meeting at the Benches and Two Leaning Girls, the same model appears twice? What role does repetition play in your work?
DB: I am trying to talk about meeting your own self, your alter ego. It's you who is doubting you and it's your reflection who can tell you how to do better.
TG: When they meet themselves are they the same age?
DB: They are meeting themselves in the mirror. Right now I am trying to focus more on how I can use their eyes for expression. I want to elaborate on what it is like to meet yourself. Through the eyes, I can express confidence, boldness, self-doubt, and encouragement.
TG: Is repetition in your work always addressing your other self?
DB: I've lived alone since 2015. To be an artist I made myself an outcast at home. I was bullied when I was young and my brother always protected me. I wanted to be alone to see if I could take care of myself. Living alone gave me some challenges as well. I've been working on building up my self-esteem and putting myself as the leader in my own life. The repetition is about finding myself before I can connect with others. I am trying to rediscover myself every day. There are two of me, one is the leader, the encouraging force, and the proctor. The other me is the fragile person I am. The bullied person, the heartbroken person, the person who chose a different path than his family wanted. In repetition, I am trying to conceive myself as complete.