Part of our society: A view from the canvas

Windhoek ‑ Namibia has plenty of talent most of which has gone unrecognized, yet Kaleb Haipinge is one of the Namibians who have brought the beauty of arts to the fore.
Haipinge holds a joint exhibition with Congolese, Tity Tshilumba, under the title “Part of Our Society” at the National Art Gallery of Namibia on July 10 at 18h30.
According to Haipinge, this is a partnership “to create a good platform within Africa and to share our dreams”. He also says, “We are working together because he (Tshilumba) was struggling to get recognition since he’s a foreigner. I am hoping he will gain recognition and that the exhibition will boost his confidence.”
Part-time artist and Closed Circuit Television Technician at City of Windhoek, Haipinge, says: “I paint what is affecting us as a society at large because I want to share it with our people.  Even though I am painting about a sad situation, I make it colourful to somewhat give it a happy ending.”
He started arts in 2001 at John Mwafangandjo Arts Centre, and while at it, he took up art classes at the College of the Arts, which included painting, pencil drawing, textiles and ceramics. After completing his studies, he started teaching at Windhoek College of Education (now University of Namibia, Khomasdal Campus).
“While I was teaching, I got an opportunity to study in France and got another scholarship to study in Sweden in 2005. Also in 2009, I got a residency to work in Germany and to collaborate with other artists as well as to get exposure,” said Haipinge.
Currently, Haipinge has had five solo exhibitions and about 45 group exhibitions. He also won a Rector’s Trophy in college; in addition, he won the Ae Gams Festival painting competition four consecutive times. Four times, he was a finalist in the Biannale competition ‑ now called Triannale, as it now takes place every three years ‑ this is the leading competition offered to artists in Namibia.
The title of the work Haipinge is going to present at the exhibition come July 10 is “Home”. He says he gave it this title because it is just a room of a traditional Oshiwambo house.
“People come to Windhoek and forget about where they are coming from, they become modern and forget their culture. So the message I want to portray is be original and never forget where you come from,” he says.
Tshilumba, the full-time visual artist from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), says: “When you have talent you must not be afraid to show it, expose it to the world. That is how I define an exhibition, because you can’t be known without one.”
Tshilumba has been in the arts industry since 1998 after matriculating.
“I started learning how to live with arts, its values and the industry in general. One can survive from painting, you just have to value and understand arts,” he added.
Tshilumba says every artist has to have an idea of the message they want to portray to the audience while preparing the canvases and has titled his works “Red Alarm”, which talks about the severe drought Namibians are currently experiencing. “We need to stand together and assist the people faced with this situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haipinge says, “Since Tshilumba is from DRC, we will get to see bright African colours that we don’t often see here in Namibia.”
“I am very pleased to have this exhibition to show what we can offer other people and also encourage newcomers that the industry doesn’t choose anybody. Everyone is welcome to do arts,” says Tshilumba.
The exhibition is open to everybody and all the paintings will be on sale.

July 2013
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