‘Optimistic’: Papa Shikongeni’s Look into Nam Society

Windhoek ‑ The love and admiration for art is growing at a staggering pace. More so, Namibian artists are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.

One Namibia artist who has found a niche in the arts industry is Ndasuunje Shikongeni, also known as “Papa”. Papa Shikongeni is an internationally recognized visual artist, a story-teller, musician and leader in Namibia’s post-independence, arts education and culture.

The world-renowned artist will hold an exhibition under the title “Optimist”, which will run from August 7 to September 6 at the Main Gallery of the National Art Gallery of Namibia.

“I titled the exhibition ‘Optimist’ because living in Namibia as a post independence artist even though I see the hardships of people, I also can see that alongside these hardships are many positive things which bring hope and so I wanted to reflect on the positive things about our society,” says Papa Shikongeni. 

“Optimist” is Papa Shikongeni’s first exhibition in the gallery in eight years, and it will feature over 30 artworks he has created in the past two years.

In his works, he uses cardboard block, ink on paper and mixed media collages.

Papa Shikongeni has worked extensively in wood and paper mache sculpture and pioneered novel techniques in printmaking using cardboard, painting, ink on paper and linoleum. Additionally, he also produced the innovative zips technique stretched on frame.

In the past decade, his works, which depicts diverse aspects of Namibian culture and traditions, have been showcased around the globe.

He has hosted 16 solo exhibitions and over 40 group exhibitions since the early 1990 in various countries including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Eritrea, Uganda, Burundi, Zambia, London, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and Norway.

Papa Shikongeni has lectured at John Muafangejo Art Centre, Rundu College of Education (University of Namibia (UNAM) – Rundu Campus), Ongwediva College of Education (now Hifikepunye Pohamba UNAM Campus). He has also been a visual art facilitator for the National Art Extension Programme with the College of the Arts.

From 2002 to 2009, Papa Shikongeni was Centre Director of the John Muafangejo Art Centre, Namibia’s training ground for young artists in various disciplines. Papa Shikongeni is still a lecturer at the College of the Arts.

August 2013
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