Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ekoka artist: Ndapewa Namupalwa

Ndapewa Namupalwa is 28 years old, from Ongangolas and she has 4 sisters and 3 brothers. She was born in Okango and grew up in Ekoka. She attended school for a while but left in Grade 6 in order to marry. She now lives with her mother as, sadly, her husband is deceased. Like many of the people in her community Ndapewa has had a very difficult life and has suffered through many tragic events. 
The picture below shows a very beautiful young woman with a distressingly hard face as if life has dealt her many hard blows.
She had three children but only her middle child is still alive. Happily though, on the last night of the workshop (she produced 6 works while heavily pregnant) she gave birth to a little girl. Abraham Hamunyela, the first Ekoka artist we looked at, is the new baby's grandfather.

The workshop's reports say of Ndapewa that she has a bold style, draws well and has a good colour sense (unfortunately I have no examples of her paintings). She is very happy to be a part of these workshops and says that drawing and painting make her heart feel good.

The first image of hers we will be looking at (edition 5/40) is a good example of her bold style. 
It features an enormous snake whose curving body spans the entire length of a tree. In some shrubbery below sits a little bird and to the right is a large circular object that appears to be a sunflower but called also be a pond of some sort. It is a very gentle, unassuming little scene, extremely innocent and cheerful.

It seems to contrast greatly with her next work (8/60) which is more roughly carved, with far more directional background markings than in the very cleanly cut first image. 

The image is primarily dominated by an enormous sprawling plant, with restio-like reeds making up the bottom half, topped by the most extraordinary flower. The black petals are each dashed with 2 or three white marks and are the most peculiar shape - each comprising of a main leaf-shape off of which sprout smaller lobes. The petals look alarmingly like wailing distorted faces.
In the left corner almost pushed off the page by the monstrous plant is an exceedingly strange but charming little creature - perhaps a fox by his pointy ears - with a wide, slightly shy, smile on his face. She has chosen to represent him from a challenging viewpoint, face-on in a sitting position and has come up with an interesting solution to the challenge that conveys upon the creature a definite character.

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