Kingsley Ogwara in Gospel

Yesterday, the exhibition “Gospel, a musical journey of hope and power” opened at the historical Catharijneconvent museum in Utrecht. The opening was a great musical celebration in the old Catharijne cathedral with gospel singer Shirma Rouse performing together with a special occasion choir consisting of museum staff.  

The two curators, Rianneke van der Houwen and singer Shirma Rouse, worked for more than a year on an exhibition about the history and meaning of the most influential music genre since its inception during the slavery period. The exhibition presents gospel as a vibrant movement and life style full of belief, hope, resilience and power, against the background of severe injustice, suffering and the fight for freedom, civil rights and equality. Its an impressive journey showing the various aspects from percussion instruments, to historical audio and video fragments, a documentary, news items, black and white photographs, historical objects such as a slavery bible and the tape recorder of a reporter accompanying Martin Luther King, as well as contemporary art.

Kingsley Ogwara was one of the four contemporary artists invited to participate in this grand exhibition with his abstract acrylic painting Sounds of joy (with the courtesy of its new owner Andrea Vollebregt-Terpstra). 


The colourful, vibrant painting, resembling rejoicing masses of people, forms a sharp contrast with the black and white world emerging from the archives as the silent witnesses of a violent period full of masses marching for freedom and equality of black people, with historical leaders like Martin Luther King, gospel singers like Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley as well as protest signs and a video interview with Kanye West about the Black-lives-matters-movement.   

Presented against the background of the lyrics of We shall overcome, Sounds of joy becomes the epitome of hope, empowerment and joy, counterbalancing the bleak violent roots of the gospel movement, gaining new meaning.      

Ogwara, deeply religious himself, about Sounds of Joy: ‘My mostly abstract sculptures and paintings are about human transformation and connection, about the freedom and harmony to be found in the masses. I want my art to have a healing effect. I spread hope through my paintings” For the artist blending in with a crowd offers a sense of belonging and a feeling of safety.

The exhibition remains still to be seen in Museum Catharijneconvent till 10 April 2023. 

For more information (in Dutch), national TV news channel NOS journal: 
(NOS journaal 27-09-2022 at 10:38-12:24 min

Museumsite and tickets: