“Karibu II,” by Marianne Houtkamp is an 18.5” bronze sculpture of an African woman swaying to an invisible drumbeat. Her posture, her gestures, and her countenance imply that this tall, strong figure is lost within herself—born again into a musical trance that is at once cultural and individual. Internationally acclaimed sculptor, Houtkamp attests to trying to capture the details of tribal people as they are, so we can assume that not only is this woman from Africa, she is perhaps representative of a specific woman and at the very least, of a particular tribe—the Samburu. Karibu means “Welcome” in Swahili.
Houtkamp was born in Amsterdam and began sculpting clay as a child. Her mother, a painter, encouraged her to begin art lessons and Houtkamp attended the academy of Frans Nijs for secondary school, where classes included clay modeling and drawing. She has studied under Johan van Wolde, who was a student of Professor Jan Bronner, a renowned sculptor. In the past 25 years, Houtkamp’s sculptures have been chosen for display in the Hague, at the headquarters of the World Food Program in Rome, at the Summer Olympics in Athens in 2004, and on a Dutch stamp. Last year, she won the second place at the ninth edition of the Florence Biennale in the Sculpture category.(1)
Yet, it is not her accomplishments that keep her going. Houtkamp lives for travel and people and her work is a testament to this combination. In addition to Africa, she has represented South America, Europe, and the Middle East. “Karibu II” is the perfect conglomeration of Houtkamp’s sculpting skill, cultural awareness, and color utilization—the piercing royal blue of the figure’s garb comes from Houtkamp’s patented color process, in which the bronze undergoes an acidic transformation to form brilliant patinas.
For more of Houtkamp’s work, visit this page.
1. This information was gathered from Marianne Houtkamp’s newest book, “Bronzes.”
Houtkamp, Marianne, Astrid Van. Galen, W. Fibbe, Erik Van. Aken, John Ruijs, and Hans Houtkamp. Bronzes. Laren: Uitgeverij Van Wijland, 2013. Print.