Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ekoka artist: Abramham Hamunyela

Today I’ll be doing my first Ekoka San artist profile. The artist in question is Abraham Hamunyela (generally all the Ekoka artists sign their works with their first names). He was born in Enana where some of his sons still live.  He is married, with six children and two granddaughters and is a very quiet and self contained person.

Abraham’s work is very characteristic of this group. All the artists work with linocut and some paint with oil on canvas as well and their themes are very much centered on daily life in their communities and environments. The style is drawn from traditional San rock paintings but each artist shows interesting quirks and methods of their own.

This linocut showing a man with a spear in an environment of tree’s and birds, is an example of Abrahams work and, I think, shows his quiet and fairly conservative nature. While other artists from this group sometimes draw contemporary objects his images are always fairly traditional in terms of subject matter, possibly also because he is one of the oldest in the group.

 Men hunting, birds, animals and trees are things he likes to depict and he does so with a quiet assurance.
The work below shows a variety of animals and trees with only a spear on the ground indicating any human presence. 

As is the case with most of the artists’ work, there is a combination of stylization and observation in the depiction of the scenes. While the trees and animals are definitely very simplified, there are areas of what is clearly observation based drawing – such as the tail area and hind quarters of the buck in this picture and in the various bark patterns and leaf types of the print above. The stylized sun in this work is a rare reference to depth of field – usually only the immediate scene is dealt with.
For more information about the Kung Ekoka indigenous peoples of Southern Africa visit the fascinating Joshua Project website. [Click on the link below]

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