Making a living off visual arts

Mariud Ngula
Born and raised in Gobabis, Onneile Modise is a talented young man with a vivid imagination and great intuition, and sees art in almost everything he comes across.

He is a visual artist from the Katutura Community Art Centre (KCAC), where he majored in mixed media. He got his diploma in 2021. He has since made a living off visual arts by doing odd jobs in and around Windhoek. However, given the Covid-19 pandemic, the economy has not provided as many opportunities as he initially anticipated, as the demand for art has been minimal.

Modise describes his talent as God-given, saying he started drawing in 2002, and used the ground as his first palette. Even though he taught himself to sketch growing up, he got inspiration along the way from visual gurus like Sylvester Olibile, who showed him the ropes and how to perfect his craft.

“As visual artists, we are known for our eidetic memories to capture images with our eyes, replay them in our minds before recreating them with our hands,” he said.

Being a mixed media artist, he said that he makes use of ink, pencils and oil pastels to bring his imagination to life, as per his customer’s preferences.

Keeping the youth out of trouble

Modise’s future aspirations are to one day own a studio that will teach art to young people interested in creating aesthetic artwork, saying this will keep them off the streets and out of trouble.

“Perhaps without the ability to actualise an idea or concept, art would not exist. Art is my constant search for the best way to interpret ideas about myself, and the world l live in,” he said. Modise enjoys visualising wild animals, especially lions because their bravery and conspicuousness speak to him, he said.

He added that he sees himself as a lion and that he also wants to stand out as a visual artist.

His motivation to anyone aspiring to be part of the visual arts scene is that they should not wait for opportunities to present themselves on a silver plate, but to get on their feet and find them. He further urged aspiring artists to make use of their imagination, and think outside the box for inventive artwork.

“Not everyone would want to buy or pay for a mediocre artwork, so one needs to bring their a-game to visual arts,” he said.