Papa Ndasuunje Shikongeni
For premier Namibian and international artist, Ndasuunje Shikongeni, popularly known as Papa, art is intricately tied to each of these concepts. Himself
a revolutionary having fought for his countrys independence from South Africa in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Papa has since chosen the route of freeing peoples minds and their consciousness through art instead of the gun, symbolic of oppression, violence and death. He uses art as a vehicle to promote freedom of self-expression and individual spirituality; to highlight the importance of culture in economic and social development; and to strengthen his vision of art as
a unifying force across all boundaries. Papas passion for the art world began with his love of music which continues to be the source of his inspiration today. He
met and worked with his mentor, Joseph Madisia, a prominent black artist in Namibia, who taught him unknown and unique techniques, giving him room to unleash his abundant creativity. With drawing as his foundation, he has worked extensively in wood and paper mache sculpture, but has created a niche for himself in the art of printmaking. He has used a variety of techniques with linoleum, paper, glass and above all, cardboard. This cardboard technique, pioneered by Papa in 1992 and now gaining popularity, gives Papa the greatest satisfaction as it brings images to life through raised texture and feel.
Over the last decade, Papas works, depicting different aspects of Namibian culture and traditions, have been showcased around the world. He has participated in nternational Artists Workshops in senegal, Russia,Kenya, and most recently in July 2004 at the 7th International Sculpture Symposium in Changchun, China. He has demonstrated his cardboard technique at an international exposition in Hanover, Germany. He has also shared the stage with other artists in Group Exhibitions in the United States, Norway, Finland, South Africa and several other African countries. He also has the distinction of hosting international solo exhibitions in Russia, Senegal, Kenya and Namibia.
Buoyed by his growing international appeal as an artist, Papa is committed to assisting upcoming artists to overcome the challenges of international
marketing of themselves and their art. This is part of his mission as he teaches the youth the importance of art and craft in community development. Teaching
art since 1994, Papa now manages the John Muafangejo Art Centre (JIMAC), Namibias training ground for young artists in different disciplines. He is also a member of the Management Committee of the National Art Gallery in Namibia.
It is through these channels that Papa hopes to fulfill his lifelong goal Unity across nations through Art.Written by: Cherie-Ann Byfield