Circle Art Auction 2015 Lot 34 John Muafangejo

John Muafangejo (Namibian, 1943-1987)
St. Michael Church in Windhoek, 1985
Signed ‘1985 John N. Muafangejo’ (lower left)
Edition 12/150 linocut on paper
75 x 39.5 cm

Ksh 155,100-193,600
(US$ 1,410-1,760)
Sold Ksh 187,840

Provenance: collection of the Arts Association Heritage Trust, Namibia

John Muafangejo in his short lifetime became internationally recognised as one of the best exponents of the linocut in the twentieth century and a crucial contributor to contemporary art in Africa. He was the first black Namibian artist to regularly and successfully exhibit his work, challenging the domination of white artists in commercial galleries and museums. He was the first such artist to reflect on the trials and tribulations of the black community in Namibia under the control of apartheid South Africa. Born in southern Angola, he first experienced formal education and Christianity when he moved to his mother’s village in northern Namibia, aged 13. His artistic talent was noted and he travelled to South Africa to study at the famous Rorke’s Drift Arts and Crafts Centre.

When Muafangejo’s work arrived on the scene in then South West Africa in the 1970s it was a huge contrast to the realistic and impressionistic landscape and wildlife paintings by Europeans that dominated local art exhibitions. His narrative and graphic prints commented with subtlety and insight on the world around him and showed the vision of a sensitive artist with a distinct style, both decorative and expressive.

During his lifetime he took part in many local and international exhibitions and received numerous awards such as the All-round Best Artist at the Standard Bank Biennale at AA Namibia in 1985 and joint prize-winner of the Vita Art Now awards at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 1987. The John Muafangejo Art Centre was founded in 1988 in his honour, under the auspices of the Arts Association of Namibia. Muafangejo is a pivotal figure in Namibian and African art history, whose intimate exploration of identity and culture through print continues to influence many young artists. This tradition of printmaking is nowadays part of the visual identity of Namibia.

We have been very lucky to obtain these two works for the auction, which come directly from the Arts Association Heritage Trust, Namibia.

This artwork shows the angel St. Michael above, separated by Lucifer from the congregation below.

Both works are published in John Ndevasia’s Muafangejo, 2010.