On Thursday, 22 April 2021, the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) in Windhoek was filled with artists from all walks of life for the launch of the Bank Windhoek Triennial 2020, an exhibition that showcases the diversity of art produced by Namibian artists. A total number of 491 submissions were received, of which 233 are from outside of Windhoek, and during the judging process, 152 entries in eight categories made it to the finals.
Saima Iita's 'Women feelings in the 20th century', a metal sculpture illustrating a woman breaking free from chains, earned him the Overall Winner spot. Iita shared that the objective of his artwork is to raise awareness of dictatorial powers that have kept women in bondage for a long time.
The Three-Dimensional category was also won by Iita's 'A Heart Sense' metal work portraying a human torso with a large golden heart protruding from the structure. "These are my first awards. I am now confident that I can do more," said Iita, who dreams of owning an arts foundation to inspire the Namibian youth.
Ismael Shivute's '3000 divided by 24' creation won the Two-Dimensional category. Shivute's work consists of 3000 aerosol can tops flattened and stitched together into a wall installation. The artwork draws attention to the environmental impact of aerosols on the ozone layer. "If one person uses two spray cans in a month that equates to 24 in a year. This work is the result of 125 people's empty spray cans," he said.
The Contemporary Customary Art category went to Anastacia Karenga with her piece 'Heart Shape, Trust, Sharing', while Ina-Maria Shikongo scooped the Textile Art category with her submission: 'George Floyd'. “I wove this creation in the colours of the United States flag. It highlights the continuing injustice that young African-Americans are experiencing in the States," she said.
Veteran visual artist Ndasuunje Shikongeni won second place with his work named 'Fishrot-Greediness.' “I challenged myself to explore other mediums. And the result is a tripod installation showcasing the plight for the exploitation of Namibia's resources by its leaders," said Shikongeni.
Namibian visual artists appreciate the Bank Windhoek Triennial 2020
A NAGN initiative in collaboration with Bank Windhoek, the event marks the fifth consecutive sponsorship, and to date, Bank Windhoek has ploughed over N$ 1, 1 million into the project. "In our continued commitment to the support of the Arts in Namibia, we place great value on this partnership," said Bank Windhoek's Head of Corporate Social Investments, Sponsorship, and Events, Bronwyn Moody.
Participating artists took note of the Bank's support and encouraged it to do more. Iita said that the recognition and platform motivate his artistic development. “With this winning, I now know that I can enthuse others to achieve their best," he said. “We can market our country and create jobs because of this initiative. Arts is the solution to creating something new; changing lives." Shivute echoed Iita's sentiments.
Shikongeni added that art is part of everyday life, and gave the example that artists design money, structures, company logos and any other visual elements, and should be recognised for their efforts. "Bank Windhoek was the only bank that allowed me to open an account as an artist in 1996. I will forever be grateful for that, and the Bank should continue supporting creative arts," said Shikongeni.
Moody concluded that as a connector of positive change, the Bank believes that arts provide the grounds for self-exploration and self-expression, the opportunity to broaden perspectives, build mental focus, physical artistry, diminish stress, and heighten personal enjoyment.
Hosted at the NAGN gallery in Windhoek, the Bank Windhoek Triennial 2020 exhibition, is open for public viewing free of charge, until Saturday, 31 July 2021. All artwork sales are for the artist's benefit.