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Rudolf Seibeb creates art for World Press Freedom Day


For the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Namibian artist Rudolf Seibeb was recently invited to create an artwork for the German Newspaper Publishers and Digital Publishers Association.


Soon to be showcased across a selection of their media which spans 286 newspapers and over 600 outlets online, Seibeb’s World Press Freedom Day painting contrasts journalistic freedom with the triumphant aftermath of Namibia’s struggle for independence in the artist’s celebrated style.


Known for his vivid, somewhat abstract scenes and arresting compositions centered around human faces and forms who gather, overlap and exist within and beside each other, Seibeb creates a vibrant, mostly free community in which the journalist occupies the lower left corner, their mouth shuttered with iron bars.


While Namibia is celebrated as Africa’s best ranked country in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Seibeb, who was mentored on the topic by a local reporter, understands that various factors may curtail journalistic freedom.


These factors could include the media’s dependence on advertising, governmental pressure as well as threats of exclusion or violence when reporting on hot topic issues such as politics, failing leadership, fraudulent or exploitative business practices and corruption.


The artist represents these barriers through the journalist’s “jailed mouth” or “tronk mond,” though it is rare that journalists in Namibia will literally be jailed for any offending articles.


To represent the media, Seibeb depicts a newspaper because, after radio, it is one of the primary ways in which Namibians receive the daily news. Seibeb himself makes sure to listen to the news each day and rarely leaves his home in Okahandja without tuning in to the reported state of the nation.


ABOUT THE ARTIST


Rudolf Seibeb is a self-taught Namibian artist and John Muafangejo Art Centre alumnus living and working in Okahandja. Seibeb was born in 1964 and is primarily a painter working with acrylic on canvas but may also incorporate items such as clay, wood, metal and other found materials into his work. The artist’s paintings often depict Namibian society, community, everyday life, joy, hardship and local culture. Seibeb has participated in numerous group exhibitions and his first solo exhibition ‘Hokverhale – Navigating a Lockdown’ was held at The Project Room in June last year.


FREEDOM DAY, 2021


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