Line of duty is defined as all that is normally required in some area of responsibility; the phrase is synonymous with a police officer’s time on the job.
Kabelo Modise’s exhibition, Line of Duty, currently showing at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN), shows men who were fierce in their line of duty, a responsibility they placed upon themselves to find liberation for their fellows, before eventually finding themselves leaders and presidents of their nations.
Modise’s primary medium is linoleum print, an art technique that uses designs cut into linoleum sheets to print on paper. From this he plays his title off, as liberated lines circle about to form the face of a smiling Madiba. Most of these serve as a sort of late sending off to the late legend that was, Nelson Mandela.
Another, of the same medium, shows the founding president Sam Nujoma, celebrating his work as a liberation fighter and his time spent on Robben Island.
Several others also play with theme of the dollar note, such as ‘Tate Kulu at 50’, which shows a younger President Nujoma’s face on the front of an illusory N$50 note. Hendrick Witbooi appears on the front of the actual N$50 dollar note, however this is a salutation to Nujoma at 50.
Perhaps what would have benefited this exhibition is the inclusion of heroines. As it is, it is bereft of female faces to add to the story of those who have done great for the sense of responsibility. However, Modise delves briefly in photography, a spell which results in one of the heart warming pieces of the exhibition, which is of a woman playing with a kid goat in her lap. It is simply titled, So Cute.
The exhibition ends on 23 June and is worth paying a visit.