7 April — 5 May 2017
The exhibition ‘namibiArt’ is a collection of visual narratives that are expressed though genres such as painting, printmaking, textiles, ceramics, jewellery design, fashion and video installation by more than eight Namibian artists.
An initiative of the Art South-South Trust.
Petrus Jero Amuthenu
Jero was born in 1981 in Swakopmund, a town between the Atlantic Ocean and the Namib desert. He grew up in the village of Olyasiiti in Uukwaludhi, an area in Omasuti Region in the north of Namibia and finished his schooling at Jacob Marengo High School in Windhoek . Immediately after school he began attending classes in print-making and other art subjects at the John Muafangejo Centre in 2003. He enrolled as a diploma student at the College of the Arts in 2007.
Petrus identified as a print-maker early in his artistic career and has exhibited his colour cardboard and lino prints both locally and internationally. He has exhibited both solo and in group shows, as well as with the artist collective, Ghetto Soldiers, of which he is a founding member. He lives and works in Katutura, Windhoek and has been inspired by his urban surroundings to create prints both celebrating and questioning the lively, violent, vibrant space he occupies.
A brush, hand or finger loaded with paint, pushing colours,smudging, scrubbing, caressing — creating spaces, shapes, forms on canvas -loving-moving in…, out and around, existing outside the normal experience of time…paint as material and painterly elements like gestural brush marks or colour are essential as tools for creating a space that expresses and conveys energy, expressing moods, longings and provoking associations.
Born in the coastal desert town Swakopmund, Barbara Böhlke who here describes her expressive process of painting regards pictorial space as a psychological “inner space” that she associates with the large expansive landscapes and skies of the Namib desert where she is at home. In her recent paintings she works with ash (symbolizing mortality) as well as iron oxide pigments found in the northern regions of Namibia to create pictorial spaces that signify “home” through the materials she uses.
Barbara does not limit her approach to either figurative or abstract painting, but recurring in her career as a fine artist are single figures growing out of paint and dissolving in paint, moving in space, be it as dancer, swimmer, diver. For Böhlke they signify her longing to defy gravity and to connect to something larger than herself.
Barbara has an Honors degree in Fine Arts (Cum Laude) from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, where she studied under Paul Emsley. She has exhibited extensively in Namibia and abroad and is based in Windhoek, Namibia where she has established her own art school, teaching adults and children.
One of Namibia’s leading and multi-talented Indigenous artists, Fillipus Sheehama, masters several visual art genres such as illustration, printmaking, textiles and installation art. Fillipus produces critical art that addresses the social and political issues of Namibia’s most marginalised communities. Some of his themes include poverty, consumption, victimisation and everyday survival. His art seeks to criticise the income inequality in Namibia that is linked to poverty on the one hand and over-consumption on the other.
The transformation of discarded materials in his art represents poor people in Namibian communities who often have no option than to establish lives around and from remnants of economically empowered households left at dumping sites. His use of discarded materials, such as plastic, bottle caps, paper and carton symbolize the elements of poverty and destitution in Namibia’s disadvantaged communities. Fillipus says:
‘I see many students coming to art school and after they leave it is as if they lose their form. At school we shape them as young artists, but soon they lose what they have learnt. Their journeys change and they are pushed into other ways of making a living. In my art I use the shape of a house to comment on this lack of foundation and support from our communities towards young artists.’
In a recent installation at the National Art Gallery of Namibia, titled ‘Journeys to ownership’, Fillipus uses the forms of houses to comment on how young marginalised Namibian art students fail to continue their careers as artists due to economic pressures and disadvantage. As a result, they lose their foundation as artists as they are pressured to pursue different ways of sustaining their livelihoods. Also in this work Fillipus uses discarded materials such as barbed wire and plastic to create an installation of various house shapes and forms.
Frieda Lühl has developed her work as a jewellery designer in both southern Africa and Germany. Though her formal training took place in Germany, her creations have always been influenced by the features of the Namibian countryside where she grew up. After studying at the School of Jewellery Design in Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany, from 1996 until 1999, she completed, with distinction, an apprenticeship in Aachen, Germany in 2001. Between 2002 and 2004 she worked for Kalbath, a fine jewellery producer in Germany, as well as for the esteemed Namibian firm of Adrian and Meyer Jewellers. In 2004 Frieda moved to Cape Town, South Africa and became an independent designer, establishing her main jewellery workshop, Roodebloem Studios. Frieda is currently based in her home country Namibia where she was born in 1976.
Frieda designs jewellery for her studio, Frieda Lühl Jewellery, which stands for masterly handcrafted jewellery. She says: ‘Most of my pieces are once-offs and occasionally I produce limited ranges. I enjoy working on commissions with a special person in mind and like the idea that my clients own something unique. I work in gold and silver which I often oxidise. I like using precious materials in combination with materials uncommon to jewellery making. Working with all these materials is the most exciting part of the process for me. Simply put, I like making things.’
Frieda designs and creates jewellery that captures the shapes, colours, harmony and contrasts of the lands where she has lived and which she loves. She enjoys working with various natural materials such as Nguni horn, pebbles, shells and wood, which she frames in silver. Her choice of materials is often unconventional as her simple yet beautifully crafted pieces are often made from contrasting materials.
Jacqui Jansen van Vuuren
Jacqui was born in Namibia in 1985. She was first introduced to clay at the age of six when she was attracted to a bag of red terracotta clay that she received as a gift. After several years of pottery courses, workshops by national and international artists and potters and formal studies in three dimensional design, Jacqui obtained a BA degree (Cum Laude) in visual art at the University of Namibia.
She remembers seeing abundant, dried-up, clay-encrusted riverbeds and, as a child, imagining the glorious objects that could be created from the scaled clay. These images manifested themselves subconsciously in her work after seeing a video on clay techniques in which a potter stretched and expanded a sodium silicate covered clay form. Being technique rather than concept driven, Jacqui experimented with this technique by stretching soft clay, covering it with flash dried sodium silicate and various metallic oxides.
She is excited by the plasticity of a thick, freshly thrown vessel and how the very thin dried outer-surface is manipulated to create dry, ridged, cracked surfaces. She is also excited by the impressions of her hands on the inside of her vessels, how they transfer to the outside to create raised and cracked surfaces. She explores how far she is able to expand vessels from the inside before the walls tear open, collapsing the form. Her processes are experimental, yet considered, knowing when to stop.
In this body of work she sprayed wood ash on the raw objects and incorporated glass before firing. During high-firing at 1280 degrees Celsius, the cracked surfaces and tears in the clay brings back memories of the vessel’s erstwhile plasticity. Jacqui’s attraction to this technique stems from her memories of cracked riverbed clay from her childhood, but on a deeper level her clay work and vessel making reminds her of how creating more volume and space one the one side (bellying out of the form) creates cracks on the other side. If the process is controlled and considered integrity is maintained. Taking the process too far tears the surface and compromises the integrity of the object.
LOK was born in Ongwedieva in 1988, in the north of Namibia and attended school there. He drew and painted from an early age and as soon as he completed his schooling he travelled to Windhoek to join the other artists at the John Muafangejo Art Centre. He enrolled as a student at the College of the Arts in 2009 and graduated in 2011 with a Diploma in Visual Art.
LOK has achieved mastery in the technique of cardboard printing, using this simple yet fragile medium to create full colour prints of objects and scenes from his surroundings. He has exhibited locally and internationally both as a member of the artists collective Ghetto Soldiers and on his own, including a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Namibia. His artistic ambition is to portray and depict where he comes from, to comment on everyday life, and to make his intense curiosity about his world into works of art that others can also enjoy.
Nicky Marais was born in Rustenburg, South Africa, in 1962. She is a Namibian painter and mixed-media artist, who works primarily with non-representational art elements to create artworks on a very large as well as on a very small scale. She has lived and worked in Windhoek as an exhibiting fine artist, arts project coordinator, arts educator and activist since soon after graduating in 1987.
Nicky employs a vocabulary of abstract forms and colour relationships that originate primarily from the Namibian landscape, and the social and political history of the Namibian people. Through the layered use of flattened symbolic images she recreates the patterns inherent in natural landforms, pathways, human settlements — both urban, rural, traditional, contemporary artefacts into new compositions. Much of the inspiration for these artworks comes from ancient rock paintings and petro-glyphs in the Namib, as well as other deserts, which describe and depict the relationships between people and their spirit worlds. Using stencils and collage to build areas of painted pattern, Nicky juxtaposes contemporary and traditional forms to create vibrant, diverse surfaces to convey an idea of the contradictions and harmonies of life in Namibia.
Nicky has exhibited in Windhoek and abroad, and has forged links with other artists and arts educators through her own work and in the course of her work as Head of Department of Visual Arts at the College of the Arts in Windhoek. Facilitating the implementation of academic accreditation for the College as well as writing course materials for the department and sitting on the Curriculum Development Committee, has played a significant role in her life in recent years.
Emerging Namibian artist Mateus Shilongo was born in 1989 in the Onanime village of northern Namibia, but he was raised in the village called Iiwiyongo on the outskirts of Oshakati, a large city in the Oshana Region. After completing his schooling at the Oshakati Secondary School in 2009 he worked for an Oshana security company. In 2013 he was successful to be enrolled in the College of the Arts in the Katatura neighbourhood in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia where he obtained a Diploma in Visual Arts and Craft. Since his childhood Mateus has been interested in the arts. His family encouraged him to study arts and enrol in art school.
Mateus is inspired by artists Yinka Shonibare from Nigeria, Douglas Camp from Nigeria and Nicholas Hlobo from South Africa. His work conveys messages and statements about social issues such as gender-based violence, political, economic and educational aspects related to the Namibian society. The work Mateus displays for namibiArts was produced during a workshop with Berlin artist Sandra Schmidt. Mateus used reused milk cartons to produce his etching and prints.
Textile artist Maria Caley finds creating textiles therapeutic, especially ‘in the way the process takes over’, she explains. She continues transforming until she is satisfied with the outcome, which is ‘usually a compromise’, she says. Over the years her textile making processes developed into an intimate relationship between herself, her hands and the material. She is content with her outcomes once the textiles evoke in her feelings of serenity and treasury. At that point it becomes impossible for her to cut up her textiles to make a garment.
Maria’s usual way of work over the years has been to use a textile, transform it with colour, print, embellishment and perhaps adding texture. Recently she found herself deeply reflecting on her creations, what she makes with her hands, and the value she connects to her work. A frustration she encountered recently is that she feels her audiences do not see or value her textiles when they are used in her fashion. As a result, she questioned perceptions of beauty and a slow process of destroying her perceived beauty, deconstructing or taking apart her garments and textiles, begun. Maria says:
This process was challenging as I found myself trying to control the destruction. I often felt detached from the textile in my hands. Usually the textures and what I feel excite me as I start working, but in the recent processes of destruction it was as if I did not want to feel. Perhaps the fear of having nothing left from my textiles and garments scared me, because I didn’t want to end up empty-handed.
Maria explores her personal experiences of marginalities through her textiles. As a young black Namibian woman the traces of her Kavango cultural elements, used in her textile art, reinforces these identities, while deconstructing her textiles she physically attempts to undo, and make sense of, these marginalities, that also inform her identity processes. Her textiles reveal, in a very physical way, her difficult experiences with peripheries.