Maid of Africa is well known for it’s quirky charm of distinctly modern and rural African narrative .
from 17 Feb to 13 March 2018
JOHN MUAFANGEJO ART CENTRE ART EXHIBITION BY FORMER STUDENTS, ARTISTS IN THE STUDIO PROGRAMME and YOUNG ARTISTS WHO NEED EXPOSURE OMBA Gallery, Windhoek, 14-30 May 2018 Introduction The John Muafangejo Art Centre was founded in 1988 as an initiative of the former Arts Association of Namibia, in celebration of the artistic and human legacy of master printmaker John Ndevasia Muafangejo, who died prematurely a year earlier at the young age of forty-four. Muafangejo had a particular affinity for the linocut process, often incorporating text and thus adding a layer of narrative to his images. His style was distinct, with rich energy in the detail. Behind every image there was a profoundly human artist. His visual narrative covered stories from the Bible, current political events as reflected in the press, reconstructions of historical events, and intimate commentaries on his own life and experiences. As a virtuous person and prodigiously gifted artist, he has had a lasting influence on generations of printmakers, ‘the artist lives on’ as Sue Williamson (2008:39) writes with poignancy. Not surprisingly, the first generation of nascent Namibian artists, were variously influenced by Muafangejo’s art and by that of Joseph Madisia and Ndasuunje (Papa) Shikongeni, and it took some time for emergent artists to find their own identity and style. But: as in the case of Muafangejo, their consciousness began to be invaded by human reality, and thus started a journey with a promise of human fulfillment. As this exhibition shows, the sixteen artists represented here, covering the period 1996-2018, attempted to develop own perspectives; expressing art as public self-analysis of identity; finding meaning in his/her personhood in a political and social context that held much promise with its new freedom and independence. The delta of the exhibition I deliberately use the word ‘delta’ as a metaphor for an artistic bridge, a terrain or, topography, a space, where artists meet, exchange and produce. This is the heart of the matter: young (younger) artists, not only contributed meaningfully to the visual archive in this country, but from the moment the country shifted from apartheid to representative democracy, the field of Namibian art has been in a state of constant invention. This is evident in the exhibition with its different genres and techniques: linocut, cardboard print, etching, mixed media, acrylic paint on hardboard, digital art print on canvas, stencil, sculpture and the use of recycled metal and other found objects. Invention is also evident in the sinews that transect the daily lives and concerns of the young artists, many of whom were migrants from other parts of the country, and indeed from other countries, such as Burundi, in the case of Christian Vyamungu. In the work of several artists, there are existential and spiritual concerns that resonate with their experiences in the new republic. Archaeology The archaeology of the works in the exhibition is interesting and important. All the works are by young artists, cardboard print dominates, most of the participating artists come from rural backgrounds, women artists mastered the poetics of art, their works engage a range of themes and concerns, the footprint (art print) of Ndasuunje (Papa) Shikongeni, an accomplished artist and teacher is evident in some of the work represented here, some of them have become professional artists in this country and beyond, with their work represented in important national and international collections, among them: Herman Mbamba, now based in Norway, Alpheus Mvula, Ismael Shivute, while Lukas Amakali became a professional photographer and poet. All of the above speaks to the importance of art and the responsibility of the artist in engaging with society and the human condition in different ways. Art needs and deserves public engagement and support. Performance Art The performance art that we will experience at the opening from acclaimed actor, director, writer and intellectual, Ndinomholo accompanied by background music, has a long and proud lineage behind it. There is something profoundly Buddhist about it: the sacredness of silence and the idea of the inter-connectedness and equality of all aspect of creative life. There is another Buddhist precept: that everything should be able and allowed to develop freely without interference by the state and people. Performance art is direct, it happens without an intermediary, but currently, most performance artists embrace other art forms and technologies, like new media, camera-led image production, video art, photography and music. Performance art has its own art practice and particular aesthetic, it transects space and time, and uses both invited and invented spaces, sometimes in a mildly subversive way to raise public consciousness on particular matters of concern. Reference Sue Williamson, South African Art Now. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008. André du Pisani Vice – chairperson of JMAC Board of Directors ... See more