FILM IN COLLABORATION WITH DIRECTOR AMANDA EVANS WITH MUSIC BY PHILIP MILLER
Goodman Gallery Cape proudly presents Hentie van der Merwe’s exhibition, figuring II: Heiseb, which extends the artist’s current interest in an archive of Nama (Khoi) folktales he recently discovered in Germany.
The tales were recorded by the German folklorist Sigrid Schmidt in Namibia during the last forty years of the twentieth century while ‘working with the Nama people’. The artist explores the overlap between Nama and Afrikaans folktales; in particular, the inclusions and exclusions of stories and details of a far more complex and violent nature that have come to preoccupy the artist and serve as impulse for much of his recent work. In many instances the grotesque, Rabelaisean nature of these stories become vehicles for continued investigations of ideas present in earlier work, such as the body, violence, power and history.
The figure of the German emperor Wilhelm II, who led Germany at the time of it’s colonisation of Namibia (then German South-West Africa) towards the end of the nineteenth century, has also shaped the artists thinking. Wilhelm II suffered from birth complications that left his left arm withered and useless, a defect which contributed to a strongly narcissistic personality with complex psychological and sexual drives.
These ideas find form in sculpture, prints and a film made in collaboration with director Amanda Evans and composer Philip Miller that makes extensive use of high-end motion-capture technology and 3-D animation.
Hentie van der Merwe is senior lecturer in visual arts at the University of Stellenbosch. He was born in Windhoek, Namibia in 1972 and studied fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand where he obtained both his bachelors and masters degrees. Between 2000 and 2002 he attended the Higher Institute for Fine Arts (HISK) in Antwerp and in 2001 the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, USA. Hi solo exhibitions include Tim van Laere Gallery, Antwerp in 2003 and 2005; Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg in 2000 and 2003; and Galerie Gabriele Rivet, Cologne in 2003 and 2004. He has featured in prestigious group exhibitions, curated by acclaimed international curators such as Jan Hoet (My Private Heroes at MARTa Herford, Germany, 2005) and Okwui Enwezor (Snap Judgements: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography at the International Center of Photography, New York, 2006). In 2002 he won the prize for best visual artist at the BIG Torino 2002 International Biennale of Young Art curated by Michelangelo Pistoletto and was the winner of the SASOL Wax Award in 2008.