Innovative photographer, Pako Lesejane is slated to unveil one of a kind exhibition in a couple of days. The solo exhibition dubbed, Photography Redefined is the first of its kind locally, and it will be displayed at the home of the visual arts - Thapong Visual Arts Centre. On display, he will showcase his artistic abilities in 20 pieces, and show off the use of different techniques.
Lesejane has over 13 years of experience in photography, and has over the years been crafting and honing his photography skills.
The official opening of the exhibition is June 2, and it will be on display for two weeks. The pieces vary from landscapes, people who he met in his travels, and documentary photography that has been transformed into Fine Art.
He tells this publication that this is one exhibition that art lovers do not wish to miss out on. The skills that he is showing are not popular locally, he states.
Speaking in an interview, Lesejane explains that he is taking Fine Art photography to a whole new level. In this exhibition, he features techniques such as pinhole photography, sugar, salt and glass overlay photography, and old photographs that were photographed on film and given an old look by applying hand painting techniques.
Art lovers should also look forward to seeing other techniques that include using different types of acrylic paints, oil paint and more.
“The mediums are applied after the photograph is shot, and then the photograph is shot for the second time to get the final photograph,” he explains.
He also highlights that it has taken him a while to master these techniques, and that his audience will experience a whole new type of photography.
In some of the paintings, he shot on film, printed, and then experimented with the technique, and photographed on digital and printed again.
“Expect the unexpected,” he says.
He further says that the pieces are printed on an A1 sized canvas that has a lifespan of over 185 years, and that they do not come cheap. He has extended the invitation to the corporate sector, art lovers as well as the public at large. “I am eyeing people who are passionate about art, and will protect these precious pieces,” he notes.
Lesejane further points out that he learnt photography from his father who was also a photographer at an early age. He took his passion to another level in 2005 when he joined The Midweek Sun and Botswana Guardian as a freelance photographer. Over the years, he has been learning new skills in schools that include Intermediate Photography, Expressive Photography and Studio Art. His last session in the classroom was last October when he took Fine Art classes in Cape Town.
“I will be going back again to learn about Dark Room. I have done it before, but I want to grow my skills,” he explains, adding that as he gets bored easily he always makes sure that he learns new skills time and again.
The second Members exhibition for members of Thapong Visual Arts Centre is currently on display at the art centre. The exhibition was officially opened on Thursday last week, and it paves way for the highly anticipated annual Thapong Artist of the Year (TAYA) slated for end of the year.The exhibition gives artists an opportunity to polish their skills, techniques as well as concept ahead of the highly competitive TAYA that draws participation from artists who are members of the centre in different visual art disciplines. A dozen pieces form part of this exhibition, all telling their own stories. Something worth noting with this exhibition is that new faces in the arts are dominating the gallery, with many pieces adorning the walls of the gallery. A small number of established artists form part of this exhibition.
For those who have a bit of time on their hands, take a drive or a walk to Thapong and appreciate the beauty of the visual art and marvel at the works of artists such as Segametsi Chabo with a collection of her leather bags, Lorato Ratlhorwana who is all about showing off what one can do with fabric patches, Sebasa Koketso with sculpting, Saroj Shukla with acrylics, as well as Phenyo Saidoo whose medium is painting on fabrics.
The Coordinator of the centre, Reginald Bakwena explains that an interesting development with this exhibition is that upcoming artists are dominating. In total, he says there are close to 55 artists who are showing their works at the gallery. He also says that this is a positive development, and it shows that they are on the right direction.
“They are showing off new concepts. We strongly believe that giving artists platforms such as members’ exhibition will improve their work, and it also readies them for TAYA,” says Bakwena. However, he notes with disappointment that the representation of women at the exhibition is low.
“Only a small number of them participated in the exhibition, and what they are failing to capitalise on is the fact that this will go a long way in preparing them for the highly competitive TAYA,” explains Bakwena. Quizzed about the standard of the works displayed at the exhibition, he notes that what one should remember is that the members’ exhibition always strives to give artists a platform to showcase their work, and that they always encourage their members to be part of the exhibitions.
Meanwhile, a workshop is in the pipeline ahead of TAYA.
On Friday evening, the U.S Embassy hosted a free jazz concert at the Thapong Visual Arts Centre.
The event was a culmination of a music outreach event that had partnered U. S musicians from the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) ensemble with aspiring local jazz artists aged between 14 and 24 years from the Botswana Society for Jazz Education (BOSJE).
Prior to the concert, the Five Star Brass Ensemble hosted a masterclass workshop for the future artists. Although the local upcoming artists only had one day to learn from the masters during the concert, they displayed some amazing skills, and proved that soon they will be headlining their very own concerts.
Speaking during an interview with the Chairperson and one of the founders of the recently registered (BOSJE), Akhutleleng Mogami explained that the participants are members of the society through the Kingdom Arts Academy where they are taught how to play various musical instruments. She also said that during the one-day event, the students were taken on a journey of playing musical instruments as well as techniques and other facets.
“It was quite a good day for us, and it meant a lot to be able to absorb all that knowledge,” she explains. She also says that the session has made a huge difference in the lives of their members and that from the comments that they received, they were certain that they were on the right track.
“The session has really made an impact,” she says. She also points out that they were currently in talks with the Embassy to organise similar events that will hopefully take place over a couple of days. She also reveals that they have recently formed a new project going by the name, the Big Band, which she says will get to benefit from opportunities such as these.
“Something that is happening right now is that some of us play music by the ear, and don’t know how to read music. This is something that we are currently working on teaching our young students,” she explains. Music Director of the Ensemble, Justin Stamps explains that they are based at the Ramstin Air Base in Germany, and that the ensemble comprises 50 members.
The group shares their music knowledge with close to 104 nations. He explains that the band plays variety of jazz such as classical and popular jazz. “We always try to be as flexible as possible in our shows,” he says. He highlights that they were extremely impressed with the level of talent and knowledge displayed by the local learners. “They are incredibly talented, and they listened to what we had to say,” he says adding that they had observed that they had a future in music.
One of the lucky students was Samuel Menoro who could not hide his excitement. He says that during the one-day event, he learnt a lot and that they learnt musical elements such as staff notations. “I am very happy that I was part of this life changing opportunity,” he says.
Gosego Motlogelwa, 33, is a man of few words when it comes to answering questions about his influences in his work and his design process.
Like most visual artists, the Lerala born artist prefers to let his remarkable work do all the talking, and will only take time to explain his works in as few words as possible.
For those who are not familiar with his work, Motlogelwa, a member of Thapong Visual Arts Centre is a wood carver and sculptor, an extraordinary one for that matter.
And for the second year in a row, Motlogelwa scooped first position in the Sculpting category under Art in the annual President’s Day Celebrations. He entered the competition with an outstanding piece of work titled Kulenyane. One of the striking features about this incredible piece of work is the pricing.
You take one look at the price and if you are still a newbie in the art scene, for a second the figure steals your breath. You are left wondering what the young man was thinking when he came up with that figure. At P40 000.00 this is one of the most expensive pieces that is currently being exhibited at the Thapong Art Gallery right now. For a trained eye in art collection, this price is nothing to sneeze about it is after all a brilliant piece of work that promises to stand the test of time.
At first look, one cannot decipher the concept behind this piece. On second inspection, one can instinctively see the figure of a woman who is balancing two male figures on her hands, hence the title Kulenyane. Motlogelwa explains that the piece is about current events in which some women find themselves in the midst of multiple concurrent partners.
Speaking in an interview with BG Style, he said that when it came to choosing materials, he goes with Iron Wood (Motswere) because of its durability, noting that it can last between 20-30 years. The wood is also of good quality. Breaking down his creative process, he explains that he started off by trying to find an awe-inspiring sculpture.
“From the word go, I wanted a piece that would show my abilities as an artist as well as steal hearts while being topical at the same time. My process of creation always begins with research,” he says. Overall it took him a month with breaks in between to finally be satisfied with the finished product.
He admits that it was not an easy journey that cost him some sleepless nights. One of the first things that he started off was making a drawing on the chosen wood, and using a chain saw, he moved on to removing the unwanted pieces.
“It was challenging and I had to rely on the wood to guide me on which direction to take. Often times, it took me on a completely different direction from the drawing that I had initially made on the wood,” says Motlogelwa. To finish off one of his priced possessions, he then used cobra and dark brown nugget polishes to give it the finished look. The two polishes were heated, and this particular creation process required him to work by the fire to heat the two polishes. “I wanted to give it a 100 percent finished look,” he explains.
Quizzed on the motivation behind the price, he is very candid about the fact that he took into consideration factors such as durability, quality of the work as well as skill and composition.
As for his win, he is happy that his finished product once again scored him points with the judges. “I am very happy, and this time around I decided to come up with something totally different,” he says.
His last words to his peers are that they should invest time in research, dedicating time to their works as well as conceptualising their works around topical issues. Motlogelwa is not a newcomer in the art scene. In 2014, he represented the country in China at the International Celebrations of the World Wood Day.
The celebrations were held in three provinces in China. Before China, he had represented the country at the regional celebrations that were held in Tanzania.
The coordinator of Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Reginald Bakwena has called on other arts sectors to support and recognise the media.
Thapong is one of the local art institutions that has been supporting the media and recognising their support at the annual Thapong Artist of the Year Awards. Besides awarding visual artists who excel in their work during the awards, Thapong also awards to outstanding media (journalists and photographers) at the awards. The awards are held in order to hail the efforts of those who during that year extensively cover the various activities of the art centre as well as give coverage to members of Thapong, and raise issue that affect the visual arts industry.
In the 2016 edition of the awards, mobile company, BTC sponsored the media category.
Speaking during an interview, Bakwena explains that the media plays a crucial role in the growth of the visual arts. He also notes that the public gets to find out about the latest trends that artists are exploring through articles carried out in media. “Art collectors can use the media to find out information about art news. The art industry needs to support the media as they play an important role of connecting the arts industry,” he says. Bakwena also says that the media assists artists as it connects and grows their network base.
It is on this basis that each year, we feel the need to recognise the efforts of the media,” he says, adding that they also assist in economic diversification. “Artists can reach a lot of people through the stories carried out.”
Ahead of the 2015 edition of the Thapong Artists of the Year extravaganza (TAYA) scheduled for November this year, the American Embassy in collaboration with Thapong Visual Arts Centre is pencilled to hold an Art in Embassies Cultural Exchange.
The workshop is a welcome development for local visual artists to share and exchange ideas with their American counterparts. It is slated to take place on October 19-27th. A public lecture will take place on October 19th at the Thapong Visual Arts Centre.
A press release explains that the workshop provides a platform to value the work of visual artists in Botswana and the US, and also expand networking opportunities between Botswana and American artists. For artists who are based in Gaborone and surrounding areas, the programme will take place from 19-22 of this month. Three American artists, namely Peter Clouse, Jacquelyn Gleisner as well as Jill Galarneau will facilitate the educational programmes and work with local artists, with the objective of sharing techniques and helping them to develop career-building skills as professional artists.
The trio will give workshops in painting, sculpture as well as printmaking and are also expected to impart marketing and networking skills to local artists. Coordinator of Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Reginald Bakwena told BG Style that the workshop is a big opportunity for members of the centre to absorb knowledge while at the same time fostering new working relations with their counterparts from outside the country. They are looking at having close to 20 artists per session, and all the sessions will be running concurrently. “People are registering in large numbers,” he says. The workshops will help artists to exchange ideas and learn about new trends and materials that they haven’t explored before. A similar programme, organised by the Embassy in association with Poetavango will be extended to artists in Maun and surrounding areas from October 24-27th.
The Maun programme is a special one, as it will take place alongside the annual Maun International Arts Festival. The release also notes that during the festival, the visiting artists will hold visual arts workshops and produce works of art alongside artists in Ngamiland. “Of particular note, the American artists will help to complete the second phase of the mural on the Maun Public Library,” the release explains. According to the release from the Embassy, the U.S State Department’s office of Art in Embassies (AIE) promotes cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts by curating permanent collections, temporary exhibitions and cultural outreach programmes at U.S. diplomatic facilities across the world. AIE was established in 1963, and has worked in 171 countries targeting over 20 000 participants including artists, museums, galleries, universities and private collectors. “Over the past decade, AIE has provided artists the opportunity to travel abroad on more than 200 cultural exchanges. Conducting events at area schools, universities, and arts institutions while often collaborating with local communities to make site-specific works of art, AIE exchange participants help bring art to life through the power of shared experience,” explains the release.
About the artists:
Michigan artist Peter Clouse works with electronic wires to create large weavings. He recently obtained a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan where he was in the Fiber Department. His work deals with waste, technology, mapping, consumption, life, equality, identity, sustainability, strength, identity and power. Clouse is deeply committed to process and repetitive actions - this is why weaving is such a strong part of his work. He currently lives and works in the Metro Detroit area and is active in several exhibitions that span the United States.
Jacquelyn Gleisner was born in Buffalo, New York, and studied fine art and art history at Boston University, where she was classically trained in foundational drawing, painting and sculpture. Jacquelyn also studied abroad at the Scuola Internazionale de Grafica in Venice, Italy. Jacquelyn continued her investigation of pattern-based abstraction at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She received an MFA from the painting department in 2010. The same year she was awarded a Fulbright Grant and a position as a Visiting Researcher at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. In addition to her studio practice and teaching, Jacquelyn writes about contemporary art, and is a regular contributor to Art21’s online magazine since 2011. Jacquelyn currently teaches at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and Framingham State University.
Jill Galarneau was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and received her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from Rhodes Island School of Design and her MFA in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Jill’s primary materials are paper and paint, which she uses to build both collages and installations. Inspired by the languages of abstraction in painting, quilting, and lacemaking, Jill’s work develops her own personal language to express memory and sensation. Her work has been included in shows at Cathouse Funeral, Butter Projects, Phillps de Pury, and W/ space among others. She has participated in residencies at Virginia Commonwealth University, Ora Lerman Trust, and Vermont Studio Center.