GAMNQOA (Gamnqoa Kukama)

"Art is a spiritual thing. You long for it when you are without it. It is pulling you to do it. You cannot leave it." Gamnqoa Kukama

Gamnqoa found in his art a meaningful link to his past. It enlivens memories that would otherwise have been lost to dwell in his mind only. Gamnqoa was born around 1950. During that time, his people still lived as hunter-gatherers. There was no formal employment and very few other people lived around them. He had no formal education and used to work as a farm labourer and lorry boy on the large transport trucks when he was younger. It was during these years that he travelled often to South Africa and Namibia. He still remembers his elders going out to hunt with bows and arrows. He learned how to survive in the bush at a very young age. During those times there were many animals.

He remembers hartebeest, wildebeest, gemsbok, eland, kudu, springbok and many others. There were lions because of the presence of other animals. He was troubled by the thought of how to keep fresh memories of these wonderful animals, because today there are only kudu and the small antelopes like steenbok and duikers. He tried to make drawings in the sand, but they vanished, and were of no use. He also tried to make some woodcarvings, but it was only after he had seen the paintings at the Kuru Art Project that he had found the solution.

In 1997 he participated in a workshop for new artists. His peculiar depictions of animals were immediately noticed by the co-ordinator. He paints with oil on canvas, but also masters the reduction lino technique. He works directly onto the canvas or lino block without preliminary sketches. The approach that Gamnqoa has towards his art, the detail which reveals his deep knowledge of the things he depicts and the bright colours made his work popular. He likes to experiment with different techniques and is in a peculiar way very conscious about final detail. Like most of the Kuru artists he likes bright colours and has no colour preference at all. He also prefers to work flat with no perspective or moulding of form.

  Giraffes and tortoises - reduction linocut - no date  
  The hunter - reduction linocut - 1999  
  Porcupine and melon - reduction linocut - 2000