Born in Uganda, Benon Lutaaya is a Johannesburg-based visual artist. He holds a BFA with Education from Kyambogo University, Kampala. Although known for his contemporary paper collage portraiture work, he’s equally adept dealing with other subjects and mediums.
2011 – Moves to South Africa courtesy of an international artist residency award by the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, Johannesburg. Within 6 years of full time professional practice, Benon’s career is making waves punctuated with sale-out shows, artistic recognition, and a clients waiting list spanning for years.
He was awarded the CITIZEN INFLUENCER BRAND award at the SA Brand Summit -2018. Selected expert Mentor for Barclays Africa L’atelier Art competition’s top 10 finalists -2016. He is a recipient of the 2015 “Face of African Youth Foundation – an African Youth Ambassadorial award” at the ADLER Entrepreneurship Awards in Frankfurt -Germany as well as the 2015 Arts and Culture Trust Young Impact Award in the visual arts category. Benon serves on a number of selection committees as a judge for the visual arts competitions. He was named among The Bright Young Things in South African visual arts by Art Africa magazine.
Benon’s work is collected in some of South Africa’s top corporate entities; Absa Museum, RMB bank, First Rand, Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art, Ellerman’s Contemporary Art Collection, and countless top private collections of major significance locally and internationally.
Benon is a past recipient of the – BASA Creative grant -2015, Lovell Tranyr Art Trophy -2012, Ithuba Arts Fund Grant winner -2011, The Bag Factory international artist residency -2011, And finalist -BBC MyWorld documentary global competition, London 2010
While concepts of social adversity, identity, and other vagaries of life are explored, the notion of yearning translates resoundingly into hope, so true of his current outlook on life. Drawing on his autobiographical life experiences as inspiration, his work reflects our day to day experiences and culture as he pursues and deepens his fascination with technique. The waste paper material in his work communicates the vulnerability of human life. And through his collage techniques, he aims to comment on and raise many fundamental questions about the complexity of human conditions today. His work offers some approach of his own personal space and identity in the world and how the latter has been formed, shaped and manipulated, sometimes torn, sometimes glued as intensely chiseled by his creative process. His technique reveals layers of constant manipulation, exploration and approximations in the application of the medium he opts to use to construct his forms. These layers are purposefully interspersed with elements of intervention and disturbance which acts as a blur to fixed ideas and questions the way identity gets constructed. Combining both abstract and realistic elements, Benon manipulates his medium to allow for infinite searching, reconfiguration, and rediscovery – releasing energy which imbues his work with rawness and simplicity. He’s competent working with either acrylics, collage, or mixed media. He admits to first muddle through a whole lot of disheartening dead ends and near misses prior to submit his offering.
Benon Lutaaya: the self-made artist breaking traditions
‘For artists who stand out due to the artistic excellence of their work; their experience in the industry and the impact this has had on their community and the commerce of the creative industry as a whole.’ Thus reads a statement from one of the recent awards to which Ugandan artist Benon Lutaaya emerged winner.
Lutaaya was declared winner of this year’s Arts and Culture Trust Awards under the visual arts category.
With countless awards under his belt; the Face of African Youth Foundation 2015 from the ADLER Entrepreneurship Awards in Frankfurt -Germany, 2016 recipient of the European-based international artist residency award by the Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art, among others, Lutaaya is an artist on the rise.
His star seems to shine so bright not just for his own visibility but to illuminate the community around him and has so far donated up to R400000 to charities and other noble causes in South Africa for the last five years.
“Right now I want to be known for the positive impact to human life. But whether I am a good artist or not, time will tell when I consistently deliver on my ambitions,” he says from his Johannesburg studios.
When he arrived from Uganda in 2011 on an international artist residency award by the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in Johannesburg, he only had a dream. The future seemed so unclear and the industry had a clearly demarcated culture.
“South Africans buy South African, artists must sign up with an established museum and critics determine who you are or you will never survive in this industry”, was all he got from his peers in the industry.
Exhibitions at ODA
group exhibition, 2017