Art gallery records steady growth

Hercules Viljoen Art Director of The National Art Gallery

The National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN), the only art custodian were artists have a rostrum to exhibit their work to the public has had artwork sales of more than N$3 million registered over the past two years.

The art gallery which is also mandated to acquire, conserve, promote and exhibit the country’s visual art heritage and contemporary visual art for the purpose of research, education and appreciation has been doing fairly impressive over the years.
The Economist spoke with Hercules Viljoen, Art Director of The National Art Gallery on the art custodians success on how they have managed to attract the public to the art industry.
According to Viljoen, since 2012 September the art gallery has managed to successfully embarked on various programmes that have significantly increased exhibitions and visitors at the gallery. Such initiatives include the Land Matters in Art, Unite-to-End-Gender Based Violence, Art Inside, Bank Windhoek Triennial, Annual Visual Arts Museum Programme and Art Inside.
Viljoen said local artists that have exhibited at the art gallery and have gone international include the late John Muafangejo, Dörte Berner, Shiya Karuseb, Francois de Necker, Joseph Madisia, Paul Kiddo, the late Paul van Schalkwyk, Nicola Brandt and Yoba Jonathan have contributed in the gallery’s success.
“The art custodian has became accessible not only to professional artist but also to the up and coming local artists,” he added
“The gallery continues to host group exhibitions and themed projects for professional artist and emerging artists as well. Earlier this year, young artist Lok Kandjengo had his first successful solo exhibition, while a site specific visual arts installations facilitated by Actofel Iilovu, Robert Narcisco and friends themed The Shack was a huge hit at the gallery in April last year’s,”he said.
“And at last year’s Bank Windhoek Triennial, the Wruth Group which is a prominent /private German art collector bought art work worth more than N$60,000 from a local Namibian artist. And later this year we’ll host a show by female trio Foibe Amundamba, Saara Nekomba and Findano Shikonda,” said Viljoen.
Viljoen emphasised that the local art industry has the prospective to generate capital on a lager scale not only through various art programmes, investments but the government could pass on a legislation that will ensure local artists to be are prioritized for tenders for artworks and monuments.
“Government can also enforce a regulation that will allocate about 2 to 3 % of all new Government building’s value to get Namibian artists to create artworks for the building more in Namibia’s arts and visual arts” said Viljoen.
“Namibian artists have, for years, suffered from a very low public status and a lack of opportunities and though the art gallery has created platforms for these artists through partnership projects, carefully curated exhibitions and ample prospects for Namibian artists to exhibit and sell their artwork over the past two years the art custodian still needs human capital and governments financial support to make art significant and available to all Namibians,” he added.