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The Ink that Binds Us

“We want to celebrate the past and also inspire the future generations of artists who will be part of this art form.”

A countries national identity is seen in their arts and culture and with the celebration of another year of our freedom comes with it a moment to honor the art forms that showcases a countries identity and the men and women who delivered these pieces of our stories back to us in art.

MadisiaJoseph Madisia art, for example, was featured on posters and illustrated publications for UNTAGii. Madisia was also a member of National Symbols Technical Sub-Committee who came up with design of the Namibian Code of Arms and the National Flag. An icon of the arts, John Muafangejo, is considered our most important visual artist, whose art represented the violent struggle for Namibia’s independence.

What inks these artists together is the art form that Namibia is known in Art circles internationally for. That art form is printmaking, which is a method of image-making that allows the work of art to be created more than once. While there are many ways to do this art form, our unique method of using cardboard (which means only a few prints can ever be made given the short lifespan of cardboard once it has been wet) to make prints, is celebrated internationally and sees many artists wanting to learn from Namibian printmakers.

“Cardboard has become known as a Namibian technique internationally” says Alpheus Mvula, who adds that while “it is not a Namibian technique, but it was developed in Namibia. It is done differently in Namibia, you don’t find the Namibian style in any other country.”

John MTo celebrate the history of this art form that runs parallel to the history of Independent Namibia, a collaboration of artists, art lovers and art representatives are launching an exhibition that will celebrate the past and inspire the future of printmaking in time for Namibia’s 26th anniversary of Independence.

People such as Ndeenda Shivute from the National Art Gallery, Helen Harris from the National Art Gallery, Isabel Katjivivi from the FNCC, Nambowa Malua from Art in the House, Jacques Mushaandja from the John Muafangejo Art Centre, to name but a few. According to Alexandra Lasky, the PRO at National Art Gallery of Namibia, “so many relevant cultural intuitions have teamed up to celebrate this. It is a historical moment to have such big exhibition about print making from the past and the present, to have a dialogue between the decades. Print making is in a sense a national art form, with many artists using it to express themselves, their political struggle and their social struggle. It has documented Namibian social political history and because of this it has a national relevance. Now, it is a historical moment in which we acknowledge how relevant this art form has been.”

Elize van Huyssteen from Art in the House says that “we have a very large collection of print making art works. Some of the artists who made these pieces have since become imminent names in the field, like Joseph Madisia who followed after John Muafangejo and who later became a teacher to Shikongeni. It is like a chain with links how it developed. Print making took off in Namibia, the artists we are celebrating today are the ones who took off when they were finally given the opportunities to do so. John Muafangejo was the first Namibian artist who received international acclaim, we will with this exhibition tell the story of what happened in the history of Namibian print making. Today we are celebrating our artists, showing what came out of our artists.”

Joseph Madisia
Joseph Madisia

Alpheus Mvula, who is also one of the artists exhibiting at the Celebrating Namibian Print Making exhibition, says that “When you look at the collection of Namibian art, you will see that it is mainly print.” Alpheus notes that the opening of this exhibition will be another moment that links in the chain as Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah our Deputy Prime Minister, will be giving the keynote address. Nandi-Ndaitwah is a former art student of John Muafangejo. “This day will be very special for us, and also to celebrate Namibian history” says Alpheus.

“We want to celebrate the past and also inspire the future generations of artists who will be part of this art form.” says Andre Gariseb, the Communications Officer at the FNCC. 27 artists will be part of this momentous exhibition, and Andre says he invites all to come see the real artworks for themselves at both the FNCC and the National Art Gallery of Namibia. “It is historic in a sense because it is not often that we have an exhibition at two prominent art galleries.”

Celebrating the artists and the institutions that supported these artists explains Alpheus, who adds that “it is amazing to see the support for artists from then until today.”

Celebrating Namibian Print Making exhibition opens on the 22nd of March 2016 at 6:30pm and will run until the 14th of April 2016.
John MBeerFor more information click here : Celebrating Namibian Print Making

If you want to know more about this technique, there will be a demonstration at the FNCC, you can find more information here : Print Making Demonstration

Or attend the Art Talk about Print Making, you’ll find more information here:  Art Talk

Article by Kirsty Watermeyer