My Namibia Exhibition- Sublime ink, pencil and charcoal sketches

With 3D-like sketches created with pens, pencils and charcoal, mounted on large illuminated canvases, the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre delighted the audience last week with the opening of their latest installment of art works. It is the first solo exhibition by artist Hage Mukwendje titled ‘My Namibia’. The exhibition showcasing an array of awe-inspiring, elaborate sketches will be on show until 25 August.
At first glance, the works displayed at Restaurant La Bonne Table are axiomatic, glaring, they hang on the walls with effortless visual appeal, as Mukwendje is an excellent sketch artist. He denotes his exhibition as a reflection on identity and culture, a visual illustration of the gap that needs to be filled between the constant contradictions of a traditional upbringing in rural areas, and life in the city.
Mukwendje’s works vividly reflect his own philosophies. With works such as “Meekulu”, and “Tatekulu”, the artist showcases his rare skill of making large portraits whilst using only a pen. In these sketches he draws large portraits that are descriptive of the elderly with soft facial expressions and wrinkles, alternating in colours of blue, black and red ink.
Mukwendje was born and raised in a small village in the North and inspired from an early age by his surroundings. My Namibia is a reflection of the young artist’s vision of his country, through the issue of identity and culture, that have evolved as Namibians have been adapting to the colonial occupations and post-colonial pressures placed upon them.
“My creativity comes from my heart, not from my peers who are also making arts. I always try to do art according to my own thoughts and style, without referring to another’s artwork” Mukwendje explained. In this exhibition, he live up to his trademark authenticity, however there are a few iconic images, such as “Smile with your eyes”, and “place for peace” that were inspired by antique imagery.
He reiterates the importance of protecting individual cultures in a world where customs and beliefs have fallen victim to the onslaught of an increasing evolving global culture. Some of his images carry a title that is difficult to connect to the picture at first glance however, after a while, the deep cultural connections he sees in mundane events and faces, becomes clear.
His themes are wide, often open-ended as he sketches with great freedom of perception. The colouring is laid on with a masterly hand and the finishing shades add dips and hollows of black and white. He calls it simply “beauty”.
As a College of the Arts graduate, with a Diploma in Visual Arts and Graphic Design (New Media), Mukwendje uses his art as a medium of communication.
“Through art work I can express emotions, education, crime, politics and how to improve the standard of living, not only in Africa, but around the world.” he said.

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