Printmaking celebrated

10 October 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Celebrating 30 years in the making – a book on the history of printmakers in Namibia took place in the National Art Gallery (NAGN) last night (9 October).
The book is the initiative of Namibian visual artist, sculptor and printmaker Alfeus Mvula that pays homage to the printmakers who made a mark in Namibia through contributions they made in the arts between 1990 to today, but also to showcase the innovativeness and creation of printmaking since the era of late John Muafangejo (1943-1987).
Printmaking in Namibia dates back to the 1980s, when Dimitri Spiros first taught cardboard printing at the former Academy for Tertiary Education in Windhoek in 1984 and 1985. It was here that one of his students, Joseph Madisia who later became a director of the NAGN, mastered this skill.
Madisia went on to teach the technique to renowned visual artists like Asser Karita, Andrew van Wyk, Peter Mwahalungange, Kosta Shipenga, Max Shiimi, Max Edison Katshuna and Ndasuunje Papa Shikongeni. Some of these students were taught from home, while others were taught at the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC).

JMAC
The establishment of John Muafangejo Art Centre (JMAC) in 1988 led by Annaleen Eins, together with Andre Strauss and François de Necker from 1990 onwards, paved a way for this technique to dominate the post-independent Namibian art fraternity.
The purpose of the centre was to actively promote printmaking, which led to Namibian artists inventing cardboard printing as a signature medium in the local art scene.
In 1994, JMAC was relaunched as a full time centre for art education by Jo Rogge under the patronage of the NAGN, implementing a contemporary interdisciplinary approach. The three year programme started with Rogge as lecturer for printmaking in media including etching, linocuts, collographs and monoprints.
Papa Shikongeni was the first facilitator to teach cardboard relief making prints at the JMAC in 1999 and in 2002 he was appointed as the centre director, when JMAC moved to Katutura Community Art Centre.

Constant reinvention
These days the technique of printmaking is common and continues to be re-invented by marrying it with different techniques.
The history of printmaking has demonstrated that Namibian artists have mastered the technique and can produce works of substance. Many of these prints are significant because they embody important aspects of Namibian heritage and experience. Therefore, the contribution by Namibian printmakers warrants formal recognition in any consideration of the development of visual arts in Namibia.
The cardboard technique has been expanded to regional and international countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, Sweden, and Senegal.
This book serves to nurture and ensure that the legacy of the legend John Muafangejo and guru Joseph Madisia continues as it provides bread on the table for many artists.
Contact the NAGN to get your hands on a copy.

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