Today we will be looking at the life and work of one of the youngest participators in the art workshops run by Cheryl Rumbak, director of the Kalk Bay Modern and supported by the Omba Arts Trust. The Trust is a non profit Namibian NGO that aims to support job creation and poverty alleviation through the development of the craft sector.
[To view the Omba Arts Trust homepage click on the link below)
At the time of the last workshop Filiemon Sakaria was 15 years old and lived with his parents. He has two years of schooling at the Ongongola School and has two brothers and two sisters, one of who is Ndapewa a young woman artist I will be discussing later.
Reports from the workshops indicate that Filiemon is very talented, productive and a good draughtsman. He is good at cutting lino and prefers it to painting. He is also very interested in different types of animals which one can see in the variety of creatures he depicts in his linocuts.
The work below (edition 11/40) is a particularly fine example of his lino-cutting skills.
In particular the oversized grasshopper looming from the branches of a leafy tree displays Filiemon’s remarkable observation and drawing skills. The charming figure of a peculiar little man is a rare example of the depiction of human beings, common to most of the artists in this workshop. He is very small in comparison to the animals and has an officious and chirpy posture that is offset by his clothing – he appears to be wearing a short sleeved shirt and pants with a fly and pockets. He carries a stick and certainly does not appear to be a hunter – the human archetype most commonly represented. It seems likely that he is a game ranger or some sort of an official – an interesting reference to contemporary changes to the traditional landscape.
Another inventive and original design concept is seen in the work below (2/7) in which a group of animals encircle a watering hole containing long-legged birds, undoubtedly flamingoes.
I find the composition to be intriguingly unique. Although Filiemon has not utilized conventional perspective he is nonetheless dealing with the concept of space; he has conceptualized it as an important aspect of his chosen image and come up with a way to convey his message. The result is both charming and decorative, forming a pleasing mandala shape with a strong design component. The animals are drawn with a beautiful sensitivity and delicacy – particularly the heads of the two seem in profile opposite to one another across the pool. This is obviously a perspective which he has had the chance to observe while the other animals are subjected to various inventive and charming angles intended to indicate that they are being viewed from above.