Dörte Berner has been a sculptress for fifty dedicated years. She and her husband Volker came to Namibia 46 years ago and started a carpet weaving business. Dörte managed to maintain a high level of productivity, throughout the challenges of managing a family, business, and her art. Her numerous exhibitions locally and in Europe always landed rave reviews, and walking through her newly opened sculpture gallery situated in the old weaving rooms on the farm, is a captivating experience: The artist’s diversity of medium and message. Her deeply symbolic and metaphorical themes. The sheer skill and dexterity required, working with stones such as serpentine, basalt, sandstone, marble, and granite; using only hand-held tools, never electrical ones.
A lot of Dörte’s works are lyrical interpretations of African life- animals like warthogs, vultures, goats; workers sowing, native religious customs, mother and child figures, drought allegories. Mostly, though, she delights in portraying universal concepts such as metamorphosis, spirituality, power, the mysteries of time, space, and death; and so on. Her later works become increasingly conceptual and abstract, often commenting on social or political situations, such as war/torture. Combining wood, felt, and entire installations like the hanging uniform seen below, with her stone sculptures adds even more dimension to an already complex and very engaging body of work.
We spent hours talking and looking, and still felt like we hadn’t seen everything. Dörte explained every single piece in great detail, and it was a humbling experience to witness so much fierce commitment, knowledge as well as wisdom in one artist. We will be back!
All sculptures by Dörte Berner,
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