Country captured on canvas

Minimalist compositions, detailed realism

24 September 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Hidden in a small studio in the Grüner Kranz complex, you will find artist Anja Benseler behind the easel. From here she creates beautiful artworks that are literally picture perfect.

Anja says her journey as an artist began in 2008 when she bought her first canvas and started painting in acrylics.

The South African-born artist completed her schooling in Germany, but returned to her motherland in 1997 to study Political Science. It was in this time that she began playing around with pastels and inks, and sold a number of pieces in Namibia.

“I graduated in 2001 and began a ‘real job’ as consultant, so it was only seven years later that I bought my first canvas and acrylics,” she says.

In 2009, Anja completed her first piece, titled “Ibis”, which she describes as a steep 6-month learning curve, painting between her job and being a new mother.

“With no formal training in art, the first couple of paintings were a learning curve and painting remained a hobby next to my day job. Still, I sold my first works in 2010, whereafter I was commissioned by a Pretoria investment company to produce six paintings,” she says.

In 2013, Anja switched to oil as a medium and began painting full time in 2015 when she and her family moved back to Namibia.

“My first solo exhibition in Swakopmund at the end of 2015 at the Fine Art Gallery in Swakopmund was a great success,” she says, since all her work sold out. “Air Namibia’s inflight magazine, Flamingo, featured an article on my work in May 2017 and later that same year I held a second solo exhibition, this time at Die Muschel.”

Inspiration

When it comes to inspiration, Anja says it comes from the beauty of Namibia’s landscape and nature, with her striving to capture its essence by combining minimalist compositions with detailed realism.

“In a landscape where, after kilometres of nothingness, you unexpectedly find a cluster of boulders, a kokerboom or a welwitschia, a lonely wandering springbok or a ruin, these are magnified in their significance by their isolation in the immense vastness of their surroundings. It is these elements that form the centrepieces of my paintings and it is for this reason that I am drawn to fairly large canvasses to better portray the big-sky vastness of the desert,” she says.

Having participated at the Omaruru Artists Trail from 2015 to 2018, the artist is now growing both her local and international client base, having completed various commissioned pieces for private and corporate clients.

Her paintings can be found locally and in homes in the US, Europe and other parts of Africa.

To view her work, visit her online portfolio at www.anjabenseler.com

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