Opening of the exhibition „New Works“ of Silke Berens and Imke Rust at Studio 77, Windhoek, 18 October 2010.
To view the artworks of this exhibition please click here.
“New Works” – Opening remarks by Ms Erika von Wietersheim
When I was asked to open this exhibition of Silke and Imke, I think the main reason for choosing me was for what I am NOT. I am NOT a politician, responsible for the promotion of art, of culture, of youth, of women etc. in Namibia. I am also NOT an art historian, an art critic or a philosopher of art. So the hope was probably that I would NOT speak about the function of art in society and make promises; and that I would NOT speak about the eternal question ‘what is art?’.
My feeling is that I was asked as a friend, as a lover of art and of artists, and as an ordinary human being who is grateful that we have dedicated artists in Namibia who continue to produce art in an environment that is not very conducive, neither financially nor inspirationally, and who continue to feed and enrich the soul of this desert country. My aim with my opening remarks are thus simply to introduce the two artists and their ‘new works’ to you.
Both artists, Silke Berens and Imke Rust, are young, female, German Namibian artists who were born and grew up in Namibia (Silke in Swakopmund at the sea, Imke in Windhoek in the mountains).
Both studied art partly here and partly in South Africa.
Both regard Namibia as their home base and motherland.
Imke and Silke are both in their mid-thirties – young enough to be called ‘young’, but old enough to have become established, experienced and well known artists in Namibia and beyond. Both Silke and Imke have had a number of group exhibitions and solo exhibitions in Namibia and other countries such as South Africa, Germany, and Imke recently even in China.
Silke is living with her two sons and her husband in Windhoek, and the intricacies and intimacies of raising a child in a net of family relationships, past and present, play a vital role in her life and in her art; at least at this stage of her life.
Silke is also an art teacher at the German Private School in Windhoek – and where she finds the time and the necessary inner and outer space to paint, is one of the miracles of life to me.
Imke is also a freelance artist and since 2007 also the managing director of the project p.art.ners Berlin-Windhoek, which has initiated and managed numerous artists’ exchange programmes between the two partner cities. She spends many months every year in Berlin as well as in other countries, but her base has also remained Namibia.
THE ‘NEW WORKS’
This is a small exhibition. There are 5 oil paintings by Silke, and there are 7 acryl paintings by Imke. In addition there is one digital print by Imke and the huge board with her sketches. In German you say: klein, aber fein – small but precious.
According to the artists themselves, they share an interest in the human figure, in human gestures, in human poses; and also an interest in the complexities of human relationships – with objects, with animals, with other human beings, and last but not least, with oneself. This theme and this interest is what weave this exhibition of otherwise two very different artists together.
What is different in their artwork?
First of all: their technique.
Silke paints with oil colours on canvas, a very old technique, placing her in a century-old tradition of artists. Her pictures invite you to meditate, to remember, to reflect, to ponder and to wonder. There is a certain oneness and completeness in her pictures, as if they are the end product of a long journey of exploration and reflection.
Imke is experimenting with different techniques and styles. She uses acrylic paint, pencil, water colours and digital printing – on canvas, on hard board, on aluminium and on paper. She combines graphic elements with painting, brings dissociate elements together without apparent logic. Most of her pictures therefore have a dreamlike quality, something mysterious. What is real, what is only a shadow? Do white shadows exist? Her pictures surprise, intrigue, shock, and disconcert. Many capture fleeting moments, on their way to somewhere else.
For example, the three dream pictures: they almost look like one of those picture sequences in intelligence or aptitude tests that you have to complete, using your logic. But in dreams, there is no logic, at least not the logic of the head…
… which could lead us to take a closer look at the Man with the Red Head which indeed seems to have lost all order, structure and logic – a very disturbing picture indeed: is it a bloody destruction of all lines of thought, of all places of memory, a red hot fire, creating chaos and heat – and maybe something new?
Imke does not reveal the story behind this red head, but she writes: I used to have a fixed idea or message in my head (often political or social) which I wanted to express in my art, but I increasingly use a more intuitive approach. I combine ideas and images that have no clear message or meaning but are an encounter of the conscious with the sub-conscious, of images inside my head which I cannot grasp but only feel intuitively. They create a huge number of images, associations and emotions inside the head which often do not fit together. But by joining them together in an image, they might create new stories, new questions…
And yesterday night Imke wrote to me: Ein sehr komisches Gefühl, dass ich selber nicht da sein werde, aber vielleicht ist das auch ein wenig passend zu meinen Bildern, in denen ich mich selber und meinen Kopf versuche zu vergessen. (A strange feeling not to be there tomorrow night. But possibly a situation that goes well with my pictures, in which I am trying to forget myself and my head.)
On the poster for this exhibition we saw both – the burning red head and the light, peaceful introversion of the child painted by Silke.
‘I paint my life, my Self,’ says Silke. ‘I paint what is emotionally close to me.’ She uses art to explore something inside herself or inside a relationship. Art is the vehicle that helps her to access her emotions, experiences and visions, and it is her emotions that give her the impetus, the drive and the energy to paint. In a way she uses art to bring order into her life, to ban the chaos and find the unknown, and to find clarity. Often, she says, she first gets vaguely attracted to a certain topic, certain emotions start working inside her, demanding attention, becoming more focused with time until she knows, sometimes suddenly, what it is that she needs to explore. In this case, a certain photo of her father suddenly spoke to her so strongly that she realized: Yes, that’s it! It is the specific topic of fatherhood that resonates within me and that I need to work through. In her art, in her own personal way, she had to paint her story about this theme.
In her five pictures exhibited here, she explores the men in her family, the complexities of their relationships, in the past, now and in the future, exploring her questions, her memories of pain and joy – with her own father, with her son, with the father of her child.
The titles of her five pictures are: ‘Remembering’, ‘Holding’, ‘Seeing’, ‘Being’, and ‘Becoming’. Which title fits which painting? I tried to match them with the pictures on Saturday, but I did not get them all right. This is, because, when viewing the pictures, my own Self was suddenly involved too.
How would you match the titles and pictures?
I wish the artists many viewers and hopefully some buyers of your beautiful art. – I wish the viewers tonight and in the coming weeks interesting encounters with the pictures of Silke and Imke. May your soul be touched by at least one picture tonight!