Strikingly bright colours and an array of bold shapes and lines intricately woven into an abstract explosion, is what you see in the latest work of celebrated Namibian artist Nicky Marais.
Donna Collins attended the opening of her exhibition in Swakopmund and gives us her impressions of the event.
Nicky opened her solo art exhibition at the COSDEF Arts & Craft Centre in Swakopmund, ‘Presence in Absence’, in the wake of her first appearance at the National Art Gallery in May this year, from where she selected 24 choice pieces of her latest works to display at COSDEF until July 29.
Nicky, accompanied by Helen Harris, curator at the National Art Gallery, COSDEF representatives and the who’s who of the local art world celebrated this prestigious occasion in multi-colour, while braving the otherwise gloomy, cold Atlantic Ocean weather.
The exhibition was officially opened by well-known Swakopmund artist, Pierre van der Westhuizen, who described Nicky’s work as visual proof of a process of exploration, and continuation of a life-long quest for some sort of truth or enlightenment.
“The shapes and forms Nicky uses are ancient and are therefore heavy with meaning and interpretations,” he explained.
“She finds these in places such as rock art, plus ancient patterns and symbols carved, burnt, scratched, beaded and embroidered on items the world over, which all speak the same language of pattern, shape, colour and line.”
He noted that the subject matter of Nicky’s most recent work is in many ways a new departure from, as well as a continuation of her established practice.
In the past she employed a vocabulary of abstract forms and colour relationships that originated primarily from the Namibian landscape, and the social and political history of the Namibian people.
However, after nearly five years since her last exhibition and many inspirational hours of painting, Nicky at last displays her newfound measure of inspiration to the world.
Here, lay some hidden meaning and spiritual connections below the surfaces of the multiple crosses, ancient symbols, and dramatic shapes, which if analysed could unravel the artist’s underlying quest for the unanswered along her journey of life.
“This was one of my most enjoyable exhibitions I have held to-date, and has been the happiest I have ever had,” an elated Nicky says, commenting on the wonderful COSDEF venue.
She adds that more artists should consider using these facilities. Currently head of the Department of Visual Arts at the College of the Arts, Nicky has been an exhibiting artist, arts projects co-ordinator, arts educator and “activist” for nearly three decades.
She has also been commissioned to prepare some “high-priced” pieces for art collectors, and has exhibited in Europe.
“I will probably take another few years break before I am ready to exhibit again, and the next one will probably be my retirement exhibition,” she jokes.
“The Centre is delighted that an artist of such a high calibre chose us to showcase her work, and the pieces are selling well, because many people who know the name Nicky Marais, know that these are ultimately collectables,” comments Michelle //Inixas, the National Arts & Crafts Coordinator at COSDEF.