Praises for Namibian Visual Artist

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By Ute Konig I would like to welcome you tonight to the opening of the exhibition “Ombwaka”. Alpheus Mvula is an outstanding Namibian artist who is active in many fields. Tonight you will see a broad variety of his works on display. I am very honoured that Alpheus asked me to speak to you. He has many contacts in Germany and to our Embassy in Windhoek therefore I am happy to be part of this opening. “Ombwaka” – a way of dressing traditionally for Namibian women – is the topic of most of the sculptures on display. He wanted to show how women’s dress from different cultures in Namibia have developed over time. He once commented that the three most important influences for his work are cultural heritage, women and nature. This is also well reflected in the variety of his prints and paintings chosen for this special exhibition you are seeing. Alpheus Mvula, born in 1972 in the North of Namibia, is surely influenced by the impressions of his youth. Having grown up in Owamboland, the role of women in society has mattered to him since he began drawing his first pictures. Therefore, it is not surprising to see the numerous women in different situations in his work as a sculptor today. He told me that as a boy he had to look after his father’s and his father’s grandfather’s cows. This is shown in many cardboard prints appearing in the exhibition. I nicknamed this corner of the exhibition, the “kraal”. I want to point out that all the abstract paintings have already been exhibited in Germany, in Berlin and in Wesel in 2003. They reflect on his topic of nature and also of joy. In order to understand Alpheus Mvula’s work better, we should not only consider the experiences from his youth, but also the many experiences he has gained since then. His work is already represented in private collections all over the world from South Africa to the United States of America, Canada, Finland, Norway and Germany. This success is the result of a lifelong process of wanting to learn new techniques and absorbing every influence that he could get. Alpheus Mvula began to draw when he was still in Owamboland. In 1998, at the age of 26, he moved to Windhoek and began to study arts at the John Muafangejo Art Center and simultaneously was enrolled at the University of Namibia. He studied for one semester at the BAT Centre, Durban, and also took part in courses at the Natal Technicon in South Africa. A stay at the ÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ’ÂÃ’šÂ¬Ã‚°cole des Beaux Arts Reunion/France and several workshops outside Namibia add to the many international experiences he has had. In 2007, Alpheuas Mvula will spend one year in Germany studying at the School of Arts in Bremen. The bursary, provided by the German Academic Exchange Service, the DAAD, is the first one of its kind since independence to be issued to a Namibian artist. It includes a three-month language course in the city of Cologne. There he will meet an old common friend, Gisela Fasse, who is already very eager to introduce him to the active local art scene of Cologen, which is one of our art “hubs” in Germany with many galleries and the famous art fair, the “art Cologne”. Afterwards twelve months of guided studying at the School of Arts in Bremen with Prof. Peter SchÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¤fer awaits Alpheus. Alpheus Mvula will also have the opportunity to exhibit his work in Germany during his stay. The fact that he will stay in Bremen for twelve months is more proof of the close existing good relations between the twinning cities of Windhoek and Bremen. All artists have different phases in their working periods. Alpheus told me he is just about to start working more on the topic of travelling. Although I already heard that he was not too impressed by our German cows with short or no horns at all, I have to mention he intends to take many cardboard cows from the kraal with him to be exhibited in Germany. I am convinced that he will find a lot of new motives and inspirations for his work. To gain new experiences, see a different culture, meet other fellow artists, to live in new surroundings this has always had an impact on every artist’s work. I am sure that his next long stay in Germany will have an impact on Alpheus’s future works, be they cardboard, acrylic paintings or sculptures. I am already very curious and looking forward to see the influence the German nature and lifestyle will have on the work of this very special artist we celebrate. *Ute, deputy Head of the German Mission to Namibia officially opened the exhibition on Tuesday evening at the Namibia National Arts Gallery.