ABOUT Akeem Kalugalla
Artistic language and positions
Despite having been a student of Prof. Joseph Beuys (Europe's most influential innovator of performance art and conceptualism) Akeem Kalugalla's artistic language is closely related to early 20th century German expressionism and French fauvism as well as to the post-expressionist and post-modern art movements of the 1980s and later. One also might find a bit of a pop art strain in it.
The following artists Akeem considers most inspirational: Otto Mueller, Max Beckmann, David Salle, Eric Fishl, Martin Kippenberger, John Currin, Robert Williams, Richard Lindner.
1) The quest for identity
Akeem is most interested in the quest of modern women for individual identity beyond the boundaries of convention and tradition. He incorporates the symbols and poses that women experiment with to express the attitudes and lifestyles that they try out.
As a viewer one might see many of the sculptures as ladies standing in front of a mirror considering the options of self expression.
How can a man believably create such works? Over the years Akeem carried out over 250 interviews with women from 18 to 55 for various book projects, talking about the private aspects of their biographies. These numerous insights provided him with more knowledge and inspiration than an artist could handle in a lifetime.
2) The ideal (artificial) companion
The notion of the "ideal human" has interested artists for centuries. They mostly attempted to capture ideal beauty.
With his sculptures Akeem goes a step further. He deals with the idea of the ideal companion - the personality that we would create for us to be our closest friends, lovers, family members etc. if we were gods.
Akeem expects android robots to be the first real entities that (or who) will be able to represent the human ideal of a human. He's interested in the interaction between real and thus flawed humans with the AI driven surrogates. His "Ideal Companions" are not necessarily super-beautiful or super-strong or super-anything. Ideal companions will just have the weaknesses we want them to have to please us.
Classic literature has the ancient Greek sculptor Pygmalion who created his ideal woman from ivory and fell in love with the sculpture and lost any interest in real - human - women. A godess finally brought the sculpture to life and Pygmalion married her. They lived happily thereafter. Was she a super woman? Or just the ideal soul mate?
Views on art
Among the many benefits that contemporary art has to offer to society and individuals Akeem values the most that art is a stimulus to the viewer's brain, as contemporary science confirms.
He doesn't mean the pleasing stimulus of easily accessible, "beautiful" and kitschy works - quite the contrary.
Viewing art that is irritating and challgenging, the connectivity of the viewer's neurological brain structure is stimulated to create new neuronal connections. Acitively viewing art therefore enhances the fitness of cognition and intellect, of associative thinking and creativity. I exercises the "brain muscles" as reading, learning a language or a musical instrument does. The benefit is even bigger when one lives amidst a collection of art.
The more "difficult", strange, mysterious a piece of art is the healthier for the viewer.