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Kapena’s pencil voice

By Foibe Shahepa 

Opuwo born pencil artist, Kapena Joe may be a man of few words vocally but tells his story very well in pencil. His love for drawing started at the age of nine when he was still a village boy. 

Back then, he said, “Children in Opuwo were never exposed to papers and pencils, but because I was passionate about drawing I used to draw on the ground and on school walls.”

According to the creative, the detail is everything for those in his trade. “I always try to have the flow of the universe and that helps me remain fruitful and progressive even during the hardest of times. Hence, I hardly openly complain or perceive my challenges as a negative,” said Kapena.

His dream is to see his portraits in retail and in every space that has a wall. “The future belongs to them that make use of today, so my mind is not thinking far. I’ve trained myself to be in the now and do whatever I can to invest in my craft and improve it,” he said.

Despite his talent, Kepena has never had a chance for a public exhibition and believes that artists of his calibre deserve more exhibition opportunities to showcase their work. “I have not been given the opportunity to exhibit but that’s not because I don’t have artworks to exhibit. I do but since this is a new chapter for me, I was told that in order for a visual artist to be able to exhibit at the national art gallery of Namibia, one must first have had an exhibition elsewhere, “he said. 

He also made a passionate plea for the government to assist artists with both financial and material support.

“People must understand that both funds and opportunities are essential for visual artists because we lose a lot of money by just getting art equipment that’s needed for our projects. Since we don’t get all the art equipment we need here in Namibia, one needs to order equipment online and with the exchange rates, that turns out very expensive for visual artists, “he said.

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