Photo of Joe Madisia

Joe Madisia

b. 1954, Luderitz Namibia.

A veteran artist who specialises in printmaking, sculpture and mixed media.

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This video was produced in 2015 by Namibian Visual Artist Joe Madisia as part of his ART exhibition and book launch titled: “AFRICAN PARADOX – Experienced in Namibia” held at Franco Namibian Cultural Centre in Windhoek in September.
 
This anthology of black and white linocut prints and poetic-rhymes are created from an artist’s perspective and comprise of 11 works. These works excavate the deeper symbolism and meaning of the artwork, and reflect on issues to do with ownership, possession, abundance, greed, money… you name it . Some poems also throw light on theology, ethics, economics and biblical studies, and they seek to explore how African people find value in having things. It is also about how having things in turn gives value to life in communities and society, including the grassroots as a whole.

Going back to biblical times there have been protests about the concentration of wealth, and it thus seems that there must be some underlying reasons why this nevertheless remains a popular idea. Several arguments can be made against or in favour of a more equitable distribution of wealth .

Surprisingly, it has been confirmed by psychologists that wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others who have less. After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness . Such trends are evident in most Africans nowadays, where rich African people feel just feathers for the poor. And so the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. Some suspect that the answer may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused. Another reason has to do with our attitudes towards greed, for which the human being can develop valid and fair arguments.
The fairness argument can be that all people come into the world equally helpless, and that they should ultimately reach at least approximate equality of condition when they mature. The argument for social stability will be that if the gap between rich and poor widens too much, it can result in societies that are too out of balance, social unrest, self enrichment or crime. The proverb goes: ‘A hungry man is an angry man’.
But resentment against the wealthy may lead to their death or banishment and the forcible taking of their property. Even where the civil disturbance doesn’t succeed, the damage to the social fabric may be severe and long-lasting. Think about the passion killings, baby dumping, rape, theft, money swindling, ethnic strife, and so on, that most African social cultures are experiencing around the world.
Every culture includes a somewhat different web of patterns and meanings: ways of earning a living, systems of trade and government, social roles, religions, traditions in clothing and foods and arts, expectations for behaviour, attitudes toward other cultures, and beliefs and values about all of these activities. There may be many groups within a large society, with distinctly different subcultures associated with region, ethnic origin, or social class.
If a single culture is dominant in a large region, its values may be considered correct and may be promoted—not only by families and religious groups but also by schools and governments. Some subcultures may arise among special social categories (such as business executives and criminals), some of which may cross national boundaries (such as artists and scientists).
The democratic argument against the concentration of wealth in a small group allows for anti-democratic influence on social policy. The wealthy have the ability to create their own “think tanks” and “frontline” organizations. These are then used to create the perception that the public is in support of their self-serving objectives.
One must also bear in mind that it is easy for artists to imagine that things will get better, but it may not be the case. Nevertheless, it enables one to be prepared when confronted by the same kind of obstacles. Can we imagine a bank that puts people before profit; a party that was devoted to truth and the long term; a university that cared only for intrinsic value; a media organization that simply reported the facts; or a church that was truly devoted to human welfare and free of mystification .
But, that is merely a poor human being’s dream. We can’t really believe that the bank would survive, the party get elected, the university get funded, the media organization compete successfully against tabloid culture, or that the church would win millions of adherents. The obstacle is always human nature. Anyone is free at any point to initiate noble institutions; but initiating isn’t the problem.
The problem is that, while it is always tempting to blame poor leadership, the past, greed and corruption, the underlying fear is what we see about our own collective appetites. We’d rather gossip, entrench our prejudices and ogle the suffering of others than understand and solve our problems. We’d rather vote on the basis of immediate self-interest than a distant public good. We’d rather find a good job than to contemplate the truth.
Anyway, this is a just but a somewhat wide-ranging and imprecise introductory brief, and it is perhaps not surprising that the artworks and poems are of varying quality, relevance to my own African societal life experience that always remained a paradox. It could, however, be very similar for any other African artist with a social conviction somewhere else on the continent.

Education


1996 -1999 BA Fine Arts, UNAM (University of Namibia) BA Fine Arts.
1983 Attend “ecc” Evening classes.

Employment


2005 Director - National Art Gallery of Namibia.
2001 Acting director - John Muafangejo Arts Centre. Katatura.Windhoek, Namibia.
2000 Lecturer - Arts Management and Development.National government.
1991 Art Workshop Coordinator - Franco Namibian Cultural Centre, Windhoek
1987 Media Technologist - Academy for Tertiary Education , Namibia
1983 Reprographic and photographic staff - “Namib Advertising and Public Relations” advertising agency.
1978 Senior Operator Instructor/Supervisor - Rossing Uranium Mine, Swakopmund

Positions held


2001- 2003 Technical advisor to the Technical Committee for The Independence Memorial Museum, Namibia
2001 Assisted in arranging 1st National Conference on Art and Culture Policy in Namibia.
2001 Board of Directors member. Franco Namibian Cultural Centre.
2001 Team member of the Technical Committee for establishing Katutura Communittee Arts Centre.Windhoek , Namibia
2000 Facilitator - SADC Arts and Culture – theory workshop at GOP
2000 Member of committee for National Standard Setting Body for Arts and Culture, Namibia
1994 Founder member of the “Tulipamwe International Artist’s Workshop”, Namibia.
1993 Member of Technical Committee - Namibian monetary currency, Bank of Namibia.
1990 Member of National Symbols Technical Sub-Committee , Namibia
1990 Member of greater steering committee for the establishment of the National Art Gallery of Namibia

Solo Exhibitions (Namibia)


2015 African Anthologies.
2010 Franco Namibian Cultural Centre – “Quarter of Century Black &White Printmaking”
Retrospective of Black & White prints 1985 – 2010. Windhoek, Namibia
2005 Franco Namibian Cultural Centre. Windhoek, Namibia.
2000 National Art Gallery of Namibia – “Retrospective 1982 - 2000 ”. Windhoek, Namibia.
1995 National Art Gallery of Namibia – “Impressions of Walvis Bay". Windhoek, Namibia.
1994 ”Walvis Bay, Namibia” Exhibition
1991 Commercial Bank Foyer (today Nedbank) – Bulow str. Windhoek, Namibia
1991 Exhibition of Card board Prints in colour. “Loft” Gallery. Windhoek,Namibia
1990 Impression of India. “Artelier Kendzia” – Windhoek, Namibia
1990 Exhibition that coincides with launch of Legal Assistance Human Rigths Calendar for
which Madisia’s lino prints was used at: Council of Churches Hall in Katutura. Windhoek , Namibia.
1989 Die Muschel Gallery. Swakopmund, Namibia
1983 SWABANK – Swakopmund. Namibia
1982 AMA Gallery. Windhoek, Namibia

Group Exhibitions (Namibia)


2013 The third Annual Visual Art Museum Programme Exhibition opened last week at the
National Art Gallery of Namibia.
2009 “Sculptures in Space” at Franco Namibian Cultural Centre. Windhoek, Namibia.
2003 Group exhibition with artist: Max Katschuna, Shikongeni at NAGN. Windhoek, Namibia.
1997 “Ondambo” International Artists Conference/Workshop Exhibition at NAGN. Windhoek, Namibia.
1995 Standard Bank Namibia Bienalle. Windhoek, Namibia.
1994 Tulipamwe International Artists Workshop. National Art Gallery of Namibia. Windhoek.
1994 Koos van Ellinckhuijsen & Joe Madisia. Woerman Haus Gallery. Swakopmund, Namibia.
1992 Joe Madisia and Friends. Franco Namibian Cultural Centre. Windhoek,Namibia
1990 Malo Hoebel & Joe Madisia at Woermann Haus Gallery. Swakopmund, Nambia.
1986 “Namibia Art Today”. Arts Association of Namibia (NAGN). Windhoek, Namibia.
1985 Standard Bank Art Bienalle. Windhoek, SWA/Namibia.
1984 “Namibia Art Today” Arts Association of Namibia. National Art
Gallery of Namibia (NAGN). Windhoek, Namibia.
1983 Luderitz Centenary Festival Exhibition with Bill Parker. Luderitz, Namibia

Group Exhibitions (International)


2012 “Made in Africa – Towards Cultural Liberation” at Sandton Gallery, Nelson Mandela Square on 24 May.
2009 “Dialogue among Civilizations” Art for Human Rights exhibition at University of Technology – Durban, South Africa.(catalogued)
2004 “Generation of Namibian Printmakers” traveling exhibition to Burundi, Comores
Islands, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagaskar, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia,
Zimbabwe and South Africa by Namibia Artists – Alliance Française project.
2003 “Omaheke” Zeitgenossische Graphik aus Namibia – Tecklenburg, Germany.
2001 “Break the Silence” Artist for Human Rights Trust bill board exhibition at University
of Technology – Durban, South Africa.
1995 “Thapong International Artists’ Workshop” Exhibition at National Art Museum –
Gaberone, Botswana.
1995 “11th International Print Bienalle” – Frederikstad, Norway (catalogued).
1995 “21st International Print Bienalle” – Ljubljana, Slovenia (catalogued).
1995 “Right to Hope” Trust International traveling exhibition - World Wide
(Commemoration of United Nations’ 50th Anniversary) – New York (catalogued)
1994 “Namibian Artists” Exhibition at Grahamstown Art Festival – South Africa
(catalogued).
1994 “22nd Sao Paolo Bienalle” – Sao Paolo, Brazil (catalogued).
1991 Joe Madisia and John Liebenberg – “Aphone Gallery” L’Usine. – Geneve,
Switzerland.
1991 “Namibian Artists” at Baxter Gallery – Cape Town, South Africa.
1991 “Namibian Art” at Volksbank – Trossingen, Germany.
1990 SADC Visual Art Exhibition – Gaberone, Botswana.
1990 Africa Day Festival Exhibition at Pragadi Maidan Centre – New Dehli, India.

Exchange programs


2009: UNESCO workshop on the protection of National Heritage
2007: Cologne, Germany official opening of an archeological exhibition titled “ In the Shade of the Acacia” at the
“Rauschenstrauch –Joest Museum.
2007: Fellowship - Historical and Contemporary Art Museums in Washington, Baltimore, Forthworth, Dallas, San
Diego, Indianapolis and New York.
2007: Conference- Luanda, Angola organized by UNAP (Union of Angolan Plastic Arts)
2007: Invitation to Caracas in Venezuela to participate in African Conference of Latin American and African Countries; South Africa, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Senegal, Angola, Niger, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay
2000: Goethe Institute, Berlin Curation and Museum Conference
1994: Bremen - “Practische Solidariteit von Volk zu Volk
1993: Exchange programme and exhibition with artist: Zigi Harder, Ravensburg, Germany.
1993: Exchange Programme and exhibition with artist: Dagman Staurheim, Hågå -Aus- Torpa, Norway.
1991: Zurich and Geneva – Switzerland – Spent three weeks with Zimbabwean artists,playwrights and musicians.
1990: New Delhi – India – Spent one month with fellow Africans from the continent.

Publications


2004 Namibian – PM’s Birtday Supplement – 23 January; Q&A with the PM. Pg.8
2004 “The Concept of Progress in Different Cultures”. A cooperative conference project of Goethe Institute, Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Technische Zussamenarbeit and Namibian Economic Policy Unit. ISBN 99916-16-68-14-4
2003 “Omaheke –Getrennte Vergangenheit – Gemeinsame Zukunft – Zeitgenossische Grafik aus Namibia” Kerstin-A. Hempker – Kirchenkreise Steinfurt-Coesfeld-Borken und Tecklenburg. Martin Rehkopp – Kulturforum Rheine. Druckerei Rennemeier – Rheine.
2009 “Secret Namibia”. Lily and Marcel Jouve. ISBN 978 1 77007 649 5
2010 “John Ndevasia Muafangejo – Etchings, woodcuts and linocuts from the Collection…” ©Arts Association Heritage Trust. ISBN 978-99945-71-11-6.
2009 “Posters in action” – “Visuality in the Making of an African Nation.” Edited by Gorgio Miescher, Lorena Rizzo and Jeremy Silvester: Basler-Afrika Bibliographien. ISBN 978-3-905758-09-2.
2005 Algemeine Zeitung: 25 Februar, pg 11
2004 “Insight, Namibia” November 2004. Ed: Tangeni Amupadhi and Robin Sherbourne: ISBN 1812-9943.
2000 “ Different perspectives – SADC 2000 Lecture Series”. Capital Press (PTY) Ltd. ISBN 99916-50-70-x.
2000 “Ondambo – Afrika Kunst Forum”. H.Bogatzke, R.Brokmann, C.Ludziweit– Gamsberg Macmillan. . ISBN 99916-0-211-9
1997 “Printmaking in a transforming South Africa”. Phillipa Hobbs & Elizabeth Rankin. National Book Printers, Drukkery Street, Goodwood, Western Cape. ISBN 0 86486 334 9.
1997 “Art in Namibia” - National Art Gallery of Namibia. Adelheid Lilienthal. ISBN 99916 30 73 2.
1995 “The Right to Hope”. Essay - “A Creative Response to our World in Need”. Edited by Catherine Thick. ISBN 1-85383-39-6
1992 Revue Noire – Art Contemporain Africain. ISSN 1157-4127.
1992 The Windhoek Advertiser; Saterday - 8 August; pg.60. “Joe Madisia & Friends”.
1991 Namibia Today; 25-31 October; page 19: “The power of arts”
1985 The Namibian; Friday 30 August; page 27: Live Arts.- “Artist with a conscience”.

Links


Biography by Olja Dzuverovic - pdf (681kb)