ARTWOLFE interviewed Actofel Ilovu, a young up and coming Namibian artist about his current exhibition.
‘Bring in the Shade’ opened at the Franco-Na- mibian Cultural Centre on 13 October 2014. It will be up until 12 November, so go take a look…
ARTWOLFE: What is your upcoming show Bring in the Shade about?
Ilovu: It is about expressing my feelings out there. It is about telling people about me, something that they never knew about me. It’s also about telling the story of my childhood and how that affected the life I am living now. Also about what happened to me when I was young.
ARTWOLFE: Is it straight-forward, what the show is about?
Ilovu: No, they [the viewer] have to figure out themselves what it was about.
ARTWOLFE: This is your second show with FNCC, what is your relationship with the FNCC?
Ilovu: There is no relationship or anything. The FNCC is more into promoting young Namibian Artists than other galleries.
ARTWOLFE: Can you explain the method of your work?
Ilovu: Smoke on paper. Inspiration comes from my arms. People can see my arms but maybe they did not have a chance to ask, but for this exhibition they can ask questions. ‘Bring in the Shade’ opened at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre on 13 October 2014. It will be up until 12 November, so go take a look…
From the beginning it was difficult to accept, [the markings on his arms] then I just fell in love with it when I became older and became an artist.
ARTWOLFE: What makes your art different to the rest of the Namibian art scene?
Ilovu: It’s obvious, no one has done this tech- nique before in Namibia. It’s not only art that you apply on paper, it’s also traditions. In rural areas you use a lamp to dirtify the roofs of houses and this creates another master piece.
ARTWOLFE: Do you consider yourself someone who goes against common art practice?
Actofel Ilovu: I think so because my thinking and my approach to the medium is quite differ- ent than what they are thinking.
ARTWOLFE: What can be done to improve the Namibian art scene or does it need improvement?
Ilovu: It is up to the National Art Gallery to promote the young Namibian artists. They concentrate more on established artists and forget about the next generation. I think that the Namibian artist is still undermined. The organizations that are supposed to promote artist are the same that undermine them and put them down.
Actofel’s process can be described as completely hands on. He gets involved with his work although most of it is up to whichever way the wind shifts the smoke of his kerosene lamp. He tries to control the smoke with stencils and matches but he knows that in his work, as well as his own life, he can’t control everything. One can only attempt to control the uncertainties and make do with what happens. One must simply come to terms with that, which is exactly what the show is about. The chaos that life sometimes brings is something everybody has dealt with at some point in their lives, the burns that pattern Actofel’s arms are physical proof that he has dealt with these uncontrollable events.
Actofel is a key member of the Namibian art scene. He is constantly questioning the art that is presented around him, whether it is the National Art Gallery or in smaller shows. He has an opinion about the work and is more than willing to share it with the company he feels most comfortable in. He is both an argumentative and at times humble guy, and just overall friendly. He is definitely someone to watch in the Namibian art scene.