By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK More than 50 art lovers and visual artists on Monday witnessed the official opening of a new and exciting privately owned art gallery in the capital. The Ke-rah-dah Gallery in Windhoek West is the brainchild of artist John Sampson, who transformed part of his home into a spacious gallery for the promotion of all arts disciplines. In his official opening address, the Indian High Commissioner, Yogendra Kumar welcomed the establishment of the venue as a commendable artistic and creative effort to promote Namibian arts and culture. Historian Andre du Pisani from an academic point of view lauded Sampson’s gallery initiative as a great breakthrough for contemporary local arts. “Painting is basically a dying art form of expression that needs to be salvaged in a particular form and approach. Hence the fact that I have decided to present master painting class at this gallery,” said John Sampson in welcoming the guests and making known some future plans of the gallery, which took more than 15 months to complete, in Sauerbruch-street. An arts competition and exhibiting space for unknown Namibian artists are two of the ventures the director has set his mind on. “The gallery will not only stage visual arts exhibitions but other art forms such as literature presentations, music and the performing arts will also be catered for on an ongoing basis. “However, for starters we will focus on visual arts whereby locals will be invited to contribute. We hope to have our second exhibition of the works from the competition in September this year,” said Sampson, whose own retrospective exhibition now on at the gallery runs until Sunday 1 April. Sampson encouraged the public as well as corporate Namibia to support and invest in the arts venture to the benefit to the whole nation. “It is my intention to launch a strong cultural exchange programme with countries such as India, not only in visual arts, but the whole spectrum of arts. What prevents this gallery to send a visual artist to India and as a reciprocal gesture the Indians for that matter send an Indian band to Namibia?” Sampson, who announced the appointment of artist Malua Malua as manager and assistant curator of the gallery, said. The artist told those present that he is not keen on promoting specific art expression from specific regions alone. “We intend to organise and promote cultural tours among visiting tourists in the capital and as far as Rehoboth and Okahandja to give them some insight into arts development in the country. Later this year we also intend starting our own ovens for ceramic works to be done on the premises,” said Sampson.