30 November 2012

Namibia: Cota's Exhibit Worth Visiting

Windhoek — Students of the College of the Arts (Cota) are showing their works in the annual General Tuition exhibition, which was launched on 20 November 20. It just about coincides with the much larger exhibition being displayed at the Katutura Community Art Centre (KCAC) in the Boiler House venue.

The Cota city venue is showing works produced by a range of much younger students, who have not enrolled for diploma purposes, and who do not follow a curriculum toward formal certification. The works on display are, therefore, not of a kind that should be subjected to the usual sort of scrutiny.

The production on the walls is separated into two distinct groups, that is, juniors and senior, with a sprinkling of adults. There is no information regarding age groups but the works speak for themselves. It is obvious from the images shown that the youngest would be around the age of about seven years, with the older students being teenagers. Two works are from an older age group, with one definitely the work of an adult and other without any identifying information.

In exhibitions of child art the criteria for the production of work is hardly worth mentioning, since the reason for such tuition serves a different purpose altogether. Child art provides an early opportunity for children to familiarise themselves with a range of new sensory experiences. They learn to come to terms with shape, colour, composition, the use of space, and they very quickly begin to discover whether the creative processes appeal to them or not.

Amongst the younger age groups, they also develop a sense of self within working groups, and the group dynamic also functions differently, where the required day school expectations are largely absent.

In this interactive creative environment, the freedom to express ideas not determined by a fixed curriculum, very often encourages lateral explorative exercises. In the works on show in this exhibition, there are a number of instances where students have created images, which speak strongly of their own sense of enjoyment and exploration, and that is exactly what child art should precipitate.

Though unfair to single out anyone, there are works that strike different chords and are worthy of mention. Uhapa Tjituka(Senior) has an interesting figurative work on show, which , at first glance seems to be a portrait, but is in fact a caricature, which has a very Modigliani-type feel to it.

Uukumwe Mwetudhana's abstract has elements of Kandinsky in the work, and one gets a distinct feeling that these young students have familiarised themselves with images from twentieth-century art history. Vaugn's reclining figure is pretty close to presenting body proportions that are correct, and Dalon Beukes also presents a work that, in its abstraction points to Marc Chagall's(b.1887-d.1985) floating whimsical figurative works, and Miro and Matisse elements as well.

But, of course, there is no real connection from a creative perspective. It's fascinating, though, that these accidental references do occur. There are many more images that stand out from the different arrangements and groupings on the walls, but in mentioning them by student name, it now elevates them above the rest of the body of work on show. Charles Mufaya, Catherine Lee, Hilary Kabende(Adult), Petrus Shiimi and others too numerous to mention, all contribute to a very pleasing display of child art in the foyer of Cota in the city, worth a visit.

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