Titus Shitaatala's vivid digital artworks mute the monotony that is the cake-, coronavirus- and TikTok-ridden newsfeed in the age of Covid-19.
Transforming familiar local scenes into metaphorical surreal scapes celebrating unsung workers, decrying poverty and measuring the cost of modernisation, the fourth-year architecture student makes a serendipitous debut in collaboration with The Project Room.
“I call my current collection 'Claricognizance',” says Shitaatala, who started creating digital collages in December 2019.
“I exhibited one of my collages for an assignment at school and one of my lecturers saw it. He was impressed and introduced me to Frieda Luhl of The Project Room, who offered me a feature on the studio's social media.”
Joining the ranks of visual artists whose work is being touted online, the Namibia University of Science and Technology student's collection is currently on display on The Project Room's Facebook and Instagram pages.
Shitaatala describes his work as “contemporary surrealism with a magnifying glass on Namibia and Africa as a whole”.
Layering images of iconic landscapes, voluminous clouds, galactic potential and ordinary citizens, Shitaatala presents pieces such as 'Rich Country, Poor People', in which a Herero woman is made all the more majestic by rolling sand and sea while holding the country's indigent, hungry and unemployed in the bounds of her skirt.
“This is probably my most triggering creation. It shows the grandeur of our country in both richness and beauty, but these positive aspects can't be traced back to the quality of life of many Namibians,” says Shitaatala, who honours the country's workers in a piece titled 'Unsung Catalyst'.
In this image the patterned sun shines over a double row of industrial workers presiding over a line of traffic in a cheerful collage that layers multiple images to create a surreal celebration.
Eerie and powerful in 'The Vengeance of An African Child' and contemplative in 'Will Gravity Ever Let You Down', the 22-year-old makes a promising debut.
“The lockdown was a bit of a blessing in disguise as I had a few ideas I wanted to explore, and concepts I wanted to express. Unfortunately a lack of time kept them as just ideas and concepts,” says Shitaatala.
“With the implementation of the lockdown, I found myself with a bit more time to create and I did just that. This kept me busy, allowed me to express myself and gave me a sense of productivity.”
Shitaatala intends to own his own architectural firm in the future, but is also keen to grow as an artist while experimenting with different forms.
“I'm an advocate for creatives to try and use their talent to explore more artistic methods of expression,” says Shitaatala, who plans on having an official exhibition soon.
“In these times art plays an integral role as it offers us new experiences in the comfort of our own homes. It can offer an escape from the confinement indoors and stimulate imagination as well as the comfort we come to associate with the freedom felt when outdoors.”
Follow @titusshitaatala on Instagram and Twitter or contact The Project Room on social media for more information.
– firstname.lastname@example.org; Martha Mukaiwa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; marthamukaiwa.com