The art that speaks volumes to the making of Etosha National Park

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Sharon Kavhu

WINDHOEK - Namibian visual artist Alfeus Mvula’s solo exhibition speaks dimensions on the history of the Etosha National Park in Namibia, the drought in the country and mental abilities in a traditional social structure.

Titled ‘Metaphor’ the exhibition which is running until June 29 at National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) uses cattle as a subject for its figurative illustration.

Characterised with visual art in form of digital, print, stone carving and wood sculpture, ‘Metaphor’ is influenced by the artist’s early experiences in the rural areas of Namibia where cattle is a sign of wealth.

Part of the ‘Metaphor’ exhibition is the ‘Anderson Gate and King Nehale Gare at Etosha’. The art piece is a combination of installation and drawing with text showing the displacement of the native people in the making of the Etosha National Park. It has cattle crafting which are being restricted around a piece of land that has a water resource in the middle of the pan.

In an interview, NAGN’s communications and marketing officer, Annapaula Vakamuena, told The Southern Times newspaper that the cattle outside the pan represents the people who were forced to move outside the area of the park which was now reserved for wild animals and tourists.

“Mvula’s art piece shows the struggle that the native people who lost their land in his process went through. They could not walk right through the park, so had to walk a long distance around the park to get to their villages,” said Vakamuena.

Information from Mvula’s catalogue shows that his artwork title is to show the historical link between the European explorers and Namibian to the creation of Etosha.

“In this work, I explore the feeling and contact to the original people who lived there before the park was created, the Owambo and Nama people of Namibia, as well as the Damara who lived on the western edge of the pan,” he said.

His artwork titled ‘Rain’ reflects on the much needed rain in Namibia. Being made of wooden dry logs wrapped around with white strings that are attached to the rooftop, the ‘Rain’ is an illustration of how the skies have withheld the rains from falling in Namibia. The ‘Rain’ also has a hard brown cover with white edges on the floor directly below the wooden log to show a sign of no life in the absence of water.

The ‘Metaphor’ also has an art piece called the ‘Oongombe’ installation that is made up of 38 stone sculptures. The sculptures are in a form of cattle heads and according to the artist, they were made in a space of five years.

Mvula suggests that the sculptures represent the cattle that are dying as a result of drought in Namibia and also the need for mental abilities of Namibian people to curb the effects of drought.

“The head is part of the body, it carries our mental abilities as human beings and at the same time, the head is someone in charge of leading (a group of people). So it speaks on the need to use mental abilities to mitigate the effects of drought,” he said.

Mvula is a proficient artist who specialises in sculpture and printmaking. Born in 1972 at Oyovu village in northern Namibia, he relocated to Windhoek to pursue a career in art. He studied at the John Muafangejo Art Centre between 1994 and 1999, then went on to obtain a diploma in Visual Art from both the College of the Arts (Windhoek, Namibia) and the University of Namibia.

The artist later obtained a Diploma in Printmaking and Sculpture in 2008 from the University of the Arts Bremen, Germany.

Mvula has had numerous solo exhibitions and took part in numerous group shows. His work forms part of the collection of the National Art Gallery of Namibia and Mal-Art in Wesel. He has exhibited in the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Denmark.

 

 

 

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