Richard Atugonza graduated from Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art, Makerere University, Kampala, in 2019 with a major in sculpture and minors in photography and communication design. He previously worked as an apprentice in lost-wax casting and as a technical officer in a furniture workshop, which he left in 2020 to pursue an art residency with Silhouette Projects in Kampala.
Atugonza’s current body of work from the series, Imperfection perfections, encompasses a selection of portraits depicting people in his life through a sculpting process that uses ubiquitous materials such as plastic bottles and charcoal found in his immediate environment to capture proportion, body movement and posture using the reverse technique. This process begins with dressing his models with bandage to produce a negative, which he then manipulates through clay as an ‘editing’ process to capture the figure’s expression in order to make a cast. Atugonza sees his practice as an extension of a recycling line, where he initially began using plastic litter found on the university premises, not because he was trying to clean the campus but because he needed cheap material to make his work as a student. This further extended to sourcing these materials from his neighbours living on the same compound and purchasing it from the recycling depot. In this making process the subject matter and materiality fuses people and environment in forms that appear brittle but become durable through the transformation of the plastic through combustion. In this process the artist finds new techniques and solutions to handle the materials.
Atugonza exhibited his work in group shows Surfaces 2 (G.I.R) Gender Identity Rebellion, Afriart Gallery (2019) and Walls Speak, Kingdom Kampala (2019).