Unam’s First Visual Arts Masters Holder to Exhibit At NAGN

THE National Art Gallery of Namibia is excited to announce the exhibition opening of Namibian visual artist Rika Nel.

Titled ‘Paper as Metaphor for the Fragility and Vulnerability of the Human Being’, the opening will take place tomorrow at 18h30 in the upper gallery of the NAGN.

This exhibition is significant in that it makes up the practical work of the Masters degree in Visual Arts, which Nel is currently completing at the University of Namibia (Unam). Upon completing her Masters, she will be the first ever recipient of a Masters degree in Visual Arts with practical work from Unam.

‘Paper as Metaphor for the Fragility and Vulnerability of the Human Being’ presents artwork in a broad variety of techniques with the continuous thread of paper as medium. This cohesive body of work is presented as installations to form a visual portrayal of the fragility and vulnerability of the human being. It could be seen as an invitation to the viewer to re-examine ourselves, our history and our contribution to the social phenomenon of abuse. The intention of the artist is to create discomfiting installations to make the viewer aware of our social responsibility and to make society contemplate its responsibility towards vulnerable and fragile humans in society.

Equivalences between the body and the art material paper were made to illustrate the fragility and imperfections of skin and tissue paper confirming the body and its relationship – both physical and symbolic – with society and to enhance the tension between art material and the theme of abuse. Text was used purposefully in the artworks as writing is not autonomous and requires a reader and an interpreter. The artist therefore beseeches the viewers of this exhibition to take the time to read the texts, even though on some artworks the reading of the text was sometimes intentionally made difficult in an attempt to hide the embarrassment of the victim.

Although the artworks were created from a personal cultural perspective, the figures extend beyond the cultural context of the Afrikaner and the years since 1652 to encompass universal psychic and physical pain to become the symbol of the suffering endured by all humans. Elements from books, art history, Afrikaner history, the artist’s personal history and the collective history of mankind were portrayed to utilise the exhibition space to create a narrative of abuse and fragility not only in Afrikaner history, but most importantly, in a universal history.

There is thus the hint of an autobiographical rendering but it is mostly a therapeutic act to make sense of life on earth. The artist aims to touch people’s lives and their souls and hopefully this exhibition will help the viewer to confront our past, to re-examine our place in the world and to make the present and the future a better place to live in.

Source : The Namibian