Artists set to define freedom

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Windhoek

Four Namibian visual artists,Tuli Mbumba, Liezl Hoving, Christian Goltz and Marita van Rooyen are currently exhibiting their recent artworks as a group at the Omba Gallery.

The exhibition titled, Kemanguluko, meaning towards freedom, is a mixed media one exploring the complex and often politicised term of ‘freedom.’ More than 20 pieces of artworks done in a creative way at the Gallery are worthy seeing. Kemanguluko describes a process or movement in a particular direction. The group of Namibian artists embracing Kemanguluko as a concept, collaborated to present discerning viewers with four different perspectives and explorations of freedom using photography and paintings. “I want the freedom to create without being categorised; I want the freedom to create whatever I want as an artist,” says Tuli, a self-taught Namibian fine artist, born in a refugee camp in Angola during the Namibian-Angolan border war. Her creative process siphons sustenance from the existing environment, a historical legacy lush with tradition and an extensive private reservoir of intuition with a subtle suggestion of nostalgia. The results of this process are refreshing and thought-provoking; the human face is transformed into a traditional African ceremonial mask and in the place of the elaborate raffia headdress, protruding from the uppermost part of the mask, is an exposed human brain without skull.

The bold, confident lines and borders in Tuli’s paintings express a quiet strength and assertion, a finite limitation almost, which intersects appealingly with her choice of bright colours to create magnetic pieces, each the independent embodiment of her fascinating aesthetic. She is currently exhibiting six paintings of various sizes as part of the Kemanguluko collaboration exhibition.

“Our free nature is not just one thing; it also encompasses the freedom to move…to transition,” says Liezl. Her works are a series of black and white photographs. Despite the absence of colour, Liezl’s images are not strictly black and white but rather a visual encounter of traditional black and white photography with unenergetic shadows of nude silhouettes.

Against the dramatic backdrop of the dunes of the Namib Desert, beaches in Swakopmund and the aggressive sparseness of an area in and around Usakos in western Namibia. Her naked human subjects manifest and move in her photographs as brief and ephemeral as phantoms. Evident in the photographs is her expression of freedom as a manifestation of movement; in a real sense and as a transition on a spiritual level. Every photograph is a complete story worthy of reflection upon the questions imposed on the viewer regarding real or spiritual movement and the role our perceptions of our physical forms play in limiting or liberating our progress.

“Photography is about perception and psychology,” says Christian, well-known for his sensual depictions of African women. His aesthetic developed as a direct result of specific personal experiences under Apartheid when social contact and conduct were divided along racial lines, and sharply contradicted his naturally approachable and social disposition. Christian, a keen observer of human nature, is exhibiting his three large, colour photo portraits as part of the Kemanguluko exhibition. All three photographs depict larger-than-life neck-and-head images of ‘born free’ Namibian women who stare directly at the viewer. He explains that the aim of the photographs is to challenge viewers of a particular mind-set, similar to the mind-set pervasive in Apartheid Namibia, to acknowledge the beauty, confidence and character of women from Africa.

Using a variety of subtle techniques, including background blurring, Christian draws the viewer’s eye directly to the eyes of his subjects. His perspective of ‘born free’ Namibian women challenges psychological dialogues, convictions and perceptions. “The choice and ability to look at ordinary objects in a different way, sets you free,” says Marita. The imagery of her photographs increasingly became reflections of ordinary recognisable objects as abstractions. The photographs on display as part of the Kemanguluko exhibition were part of her Master’s thesis and are an inspiring collection of abstract portrayals.

Marita says the purpose of her photography is to invite viewers to not only look differently at things taken for granted but also to explore via thought personal perspectives. Nothing is ordinary in Marita’s persuasive view, the ordinary is indeed extraordinary.

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