The History of Modern Batik Art Painting
The art of batik painting was introduced to East Africa in the 1960s from Indonesia. This involved the applying of simple outlines, light to dark dyes and using wax resist as the basis for separating colours. By the end of the 70s, however, a whole new look to this basic craft was emerging through the talents of two brothers.
In 1976 at the height of Idi Amin’s regime; Kibuuka left Uganda to attend art schools in Nairobi, Kenya. One year later his older brother, Henry Lutalo Lumu, While in Kenya, Henry developed new techniques that would revolutionize the art of batik painting.
Using the same traditional materials of water-based dyes, wax and fabric that were used in the traditional Indonesian batik, Henry applied the colours in reverse order, starting with darker hues and ending with light. Also, importantly, instead of using dyes in full strength by mere dipping the fabric in them, he controlled the gradual dilution of the same dyes and applied them to the fabric using paintbrushes. This revolutionary approach allowed Henry to create detailed, refined images with dramatically enhanced tonality, shading and depth.
Kibuuka, working closely with his brother, introduced an additional technique to this medium: ‘fragmentation.’ This modification added increasing background depth, broadness and a richer palette of colours to the batik painting, allowing this novel fine art medium to yield control, detail and richness comparable to acrylic and water-colour painting. This modification has been called ‘Modern Batik Art Painting.’
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