Updated: Mar 18, 2021
VISUAL artist Trianus Nakale doesn't believe in art for art's sake. Not right now. Not while Namibia is being crippled by its social ills. Not when poverty, corruption, tribalism, greed, alcoholism, nepotism and gender-based violence are the order of the day and continue to worsen each night.
In 'Impact' – the College of the Arts alumnus' first solo exhibition currently on display at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre restaurant as part of Heritage Week – Namibia is rendered in ink and in clay. Twenty-two drawings and two sculptures depicting hands grabbing land, a surreal moonlit graveyard where the tombstones are Jack Daniels bottles and in which women are the givers of life to be cherished but are regularly beaten black and blue.
“My exhibition is called 'Impact' and it's about change. Namibia has social problems like gender-based violence, corruption, greed and drinking and driving and we need to stop these things,” he says. “I see many artists who only do abstract art, art for beauty and just to sell but for me that's a problem because it feels like they are satisfied with their lives and they don't really care about what is happening in Namibia. Art is a visual language which we should use as artists to change the world to be a better place.” Scathing in his written admonishments stuck below visual art pieces that need rise to the artistic occasion, Nakale's ire is undeniable, though his display of skill is erratic. Most cutting of all but rendered more like a furious doodle than a well thought out and convincing piece of art is 'Just Cut the Damn Thing Off'. A graphic ink pen drawing decrying rape and calling men trash with the advice that “if you can't use it rightfully and properly then you need to get rid of it. Just cut the damn thing off”. Noble in its intentions and contemptuous in its appraisal of elites, 'earth harmers', male society, beaters, cheaters, abusers and cowards, 'Impact' effects anger which the artist hopes may galvanise some kind of reform. “This exhibition is about making change so Namibia can be a better country to live in,” says Nakale who spent three months in Sweden and witnessed its comparative peace and social security only to be doubly troubled by Namibia's status quo. Frank, literal but in want of far more finesse when it comes to execution, the Ekoka-born artist's exhibition will be on display at the FNCC restaurant until 12 October. – email@example.com; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram