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70 2 September 28, 2017

Starting the Conversation Around Contemporary Namibian Art

The art of today, contemporary art, challenges traditional boundaries and forms part of cultural dialogue. A bridge for Namibian contemporary art is about to open as the capitals first contemporary private art gallery, the StArt Art Gallery. A bridge that hopes to connect Namibian Artists with their audiences, because while Namibian art is on par with the rest of the World, it is often, as yet undiscovered by most Namibians.

Seeing the need to create spaces for the connection to occur between the artists and the art appreciators, two Namibian women, Gina Figueira and Helen Harris set out to create a space for Namibian contemporary artists, which as Helen explains, “broadens options and opens up the market” for both the artists and the audience who love art.

“If you’re buying a mass produced piece of art, it will only lose value over time because it’s highest value is at the time you purchase it. If you’re buying an original artwork from a Namibian Artist, whose career will only gain renown, its value will go up.”

Gina explains that through providing the platform for the artists, and through providing one-on-one guidance for the art lovers they hope to establish a culture of art support, knowing that Namibian art is something worth adorning your walls with. Helen adds that this will in turn be a benefit to the artists through the Galleries vested interest in marketing their work, “We are an independent space, and we are putting the relationship between the artist and the client at the forefront.” Gina notes that this is important because, “It’s an industry, and for an industry to work, the market needs to have a vested interest, supporting artists also grows the industry.”

The timing of this new Gallery couldn’t be more perfect as all signs indicate that the time to become an art connoisseur is now, because right now Namibian art is affordable but these prices will increase. Helen explains, “If you’re buying a mass produced piece of art, it will only lose value over time because it’s highest value is at the time you purchase it. If you’re buying an original artwork from a Namibian Artist, whose career will only gain renown, its value will go up.”

When asked how to know which art to purchase Helen notes, “It really is down to that personal connection with an artwork”. But if you, like most, are still unsure your personal connection is connecting correctly, Helen and Gina offer the service of much appreciated guidance. “There are things you learn from going to art school about the technical qualities of a work. Whether it’s well executed or not, whether this is a particularly good version.” Explains Helen as she references the pieces in what will be the first exhibition to be held at the StArt Art Gallery, a collection by Laimi Mbangula, titled by ‘Inside The Room’. “With Laimi’s prints she is completely meticulous, but if you look closely you’ll also see elements because it is a handmade product.”

“Her work captured both of us; we both had that immediate connection with the work. We believe in Laimi’s content, portraying tensions that she’s feeling in a really accessible way. She’s dealing a lot with domestic space, the role of tradition and contemporary culture.”

Explaining the first ever exhibition at the StArt Art Gallery Gina notes, “A lot of the things that we so much love about this exhibition is that wonderful balance in a lot of the work in terms of this meticulous stencilling. I mean to stencil in this scale, you need to be meticulous but there are marks of that hands on progress. Her work captured both of us; we both had that immediate connection with the work. We believe in Laimi’s content, portraying tensions that she’s feeling in a really accessible way. She’s dealing a lot with domestic space, the role of tradition and contemporary culture. Dialogue that a lot of people are experiencing, coming from your roots and then living in a culture that changes so constantly. Everybody, no matter what kind of roots you are coming from, is dealing with figuring out your identity with all these different things going on. It’s relatable to everybody and it’s accessible. You can feel that from her work.”

The enthusiasm for art in Namibia is palpable as Helen explains; “We’d love to tell people about the work, we’d love to talk to people about their interest in art in general.” Which is what these two women will be doing, offering guidance and operating as consultants to both the artists and the art lovers.

“Namibia is not in isolation to the rest of the world, we dealing with influences globally and locally and that is what makes Namibian art so incredibly beautiful and obviously unique, because of those tensions and those interplaying relationships.”

StArt Art Gallery will be opening on the 28th of September at 18:00, ready to share the Namibian contemporary art story and the stories behind contemporary art in Namibia.

“In order to grow together, to learn from each other, and to be a gallery for Namibian art, we need to be open to all kinds of dialogue with all players in the arts industry. We are part of that dialogue and a place where we can share how to view art and what to think of art.”

“We’re not behind the rest of the world. Namibia is not in isolation to the rest of the world, we dealing with influences globally and locally and that is what makes Namibian art so incredibly beautiful and obviously unique, because of those tensions and those interplaying relationships.” Says Helen.

“It’s so important that people are active in the arts. In order to grow together, to learn from each other, and to be a gallery for Namibian art, we need to be open to all kinds of dialogue with all players in the arts industry. We are part of that dialogue and a place where we can share how to view art and what to think of art.” Notes Gina.

Join the ladies of the StArt Art Gallery on the 28th of September at 18:00 for the opening of the Gallery marked by the opening of the ‘Inside The Room’ exhibition by Laimi Mbangula. The StArt Art Gallery is located next to the Wolfshack, Wine Bar and Restaurant on Macadam Street in the Southern Industrial area, meaning one can discuss their newly acquired art skills, or art pieces over a glass of something chilled after.

Together with the artist, Laimi Mbangula, the two Curators, Helen and Gina, will be hosting an evening of art creation on the 12th of October where for N$150 you’ll spending the evening stencilling after Laimi demonstrates her technique to all participants. All your materials and a glass of wine are included in the price. For more information send an email to startartnam@gmail.com

The StArt Art Gallery will be open from 2pm to 7pm every evening from Tuesday to Saturday.

 

Written by Kirsty Watermeyer

 

2 Comments

    1. 99FM
       /  Reply

      Thank you very much Shayna!

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