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60 0 May 18, 2017

The Element of Time

Nicky Marais’ artwork is known for telling the story of the Namibian landscape, and the social and political history of the Namibian people. Her most recent collection, that adorned the walls of the National Art Gallery of Namibia’s Main Gallery and was titled Presence In Absence, saw this acclaimed Namibian artist, and Lecturer at the College of the Arts, explore patterns and symbols inspired by texts, dreams and conversations.

99FM’s MYD Art spoke to Nicky Marais about this collection as well as the fundamentals of art, particularly abstract art.

“It’s also about abstract art being a little bit like music without words. Everyone can appreciate a piece of music that doesn’t say anything, something like a drum beat can be so evocative and so exciting and can have so much meaning.”

Explaining Presence In Absence, Nicky says,“There are no people, there are no faces, there’s no landscape, it was about the presence of an absent image. It’s also about abstract art being a little bit like music without words. Everyone can appreciate a piece of music that doesn’t say anything, something like a drum beat can be so evocative and so exciting and can have so much meaning. When you work in an abstract way, you have to work very carefully with the elements of art, you don’t have the ‘face’ to distract from your lack of composition or something else. You have to work with colour, tone, rhythm, light, contrast and space. You have to think very carefully about how you arrange your different symbols and marks on the page.”

“I’m attracted to patterns. Do you know that the first art that was made by human beings, was people scratching “cross hatchings” on a piece of ochre? That was the first symbolic representation that human beings made and there’s evidence of that art from 70 000 years ago.”

“Layering is a time element; you add the element of time to your art. It gets built up over time and some of these paintings, in fact many of the paintings, have been worked over old artworks so there is quite a lot going on under the surface.”

Some of the pieces that make up the collection are over twelve years old. Nicky explains her process and the element of time, “I work a lot with layering. Layering is a time element; you add the element of time to your art. It gets built up over time and some of these paintings, in fact many of the paintings, have been worked over old artworks so there is quite a lot going on under the surface.”

In addition to the array of colours in her pieces, Nicky also uses themes to relay her message, “I work in themes, and crosses for example represent graves to me and are about the presence of absence of people. People stay with us forever, long after they’ve left the earth, they stay with us. My mother was an artist and she’s always with me when I’m painting. It’s also about how the past is absent, it’s gone, it’s over, but it’s present with us every single day.

“People keep on saying to Namibians should get over the past, it is over, and it’s time for us to move on. But you can’t, you must never ever. You’ve got to take it with you.”

When talking time in the context of how Nicky knows when one of her masterpieces infused with stories is ready she laughs and says, “You can’t know when it’s ready, sometimes you think oh well, I’ll come back to this tomorrow, this is really terrible and then you go back the next day and you think, oh my goodness it’s finished, but if I take any home again I’ll probably work on it some more.”

“People often say to me I wish I could draw. Drawing is like reading and writing. When you were born you didn’t know how to read and write, you learnt. The same with drawing it’s a learned skill and it’s a really fulfilling and wonderful thing to do.”

Nicky is passionate about art and wished more people to benefit from the value of art as she explains, “Art is great. Art is wonderful. It enriches your life. Human beings have been making art for more than seventy thousand years, it’s so much part of us, and we shouldn’t just leave it to artists to make art, it’s up to all of us to create. In fact people do; they design their gardens; they select their outfits, to find art where they can. People often say to me I wish I could draw. Drawing is like reading and writing. When you were born you didn’t know how to read and write, you learnt. The same with drawing it’s a learned skill and it’s a really fulfilling and wonderful thing to do.”

 

Get in touch with Nicky Marais through her website, by clicking here

Written by Kirsty Watermeyer

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Contact 99FM

Contact the 99FM Team for more information about your favorite radio station or to simply provide us with feedback!

Address:
Corner of Alwyn & Perkin Street Suiderhof, Windhoek.

Telephone Number
+264 (61) 38 3450

Studio Number
+264 (61) 38 3483