Rising Stars: Daniel Atenyi


Wandaalo Atenyi Daniel is a Ugandan born artist that uses charcoal on paper to create surrealist monochromatic portraiture. Daniel uses extravagant contrasts and assertive forms that create counter-narratives to the visual representations of the spiritual form through histories.

He creates depictions of characters that are a mix of realism & surrealism rooted in African spiritual mythology; to critique consequences of the constantly evolving human trends. He achieves this by cutting pathways through the conventional social construct, leading into dimensions conjured from the present.

Daniel has always been captivated by indigenous lifestyles since his childhood and has had a thirst to learn about the ways of life that predate modernization. This is evident in his drawings, with characters adorned with tribal body pigments, wooden ear disks, and marks of scarification.

Daniel Atenyi by Eric Senkungu_


By building within symbolism and maintaining a subtle sense of realism, I create drawings that capture representations of lifestyles and experiences from a journey through time. In many instances, the studies are comparisons between a very real world we live in, and surrealistic realms hidden beneath what we see in the physical. Inspiration for these elements is deeply rooted in indigenous cultural practices and beauty, manifesting in visual representations of spirituality.

It has always been a conscious decision to use charcoal and maintain a recurring monochromatic theme in the drawings I create. I see it as a symbolic affirmation that we are of singular spiritual substance, representing the higher self in the most modest and most basic form with no alteration from any other physical/visual qualities.

The faceless creatures and compositions in the drawings are a mindful way of representing a singular casual mind of a human being, a deliberate effort to keep every single drawing completely accessible and relatable to any single person regardless of one’s state of mind or spiritual belief. The neutrality of many elements in the drawings I create is a thoughtful act to keep the window into that portal of expression open to interpretation for all.

Dissolution, 2021
Charcoal on paper, 89cm(w) x 96cm(h)

Separation, 2022
Charcoal on paper, 119cm(w) x 89cm(h)

Obscurity, 2022
Charcoal on paper, (w)63cm x (h)89cm;

Listener, 2022
Charcoal on paper 89cm(w) x 119cm(h)

For more information about the artist, please visit:

Instagram: @danielatenyi

All photographs courtesy of Daniel Atenyi
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