Master sculptor Motlogelwa in his own league

Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Motlogelwe’s award winning sculptor Motlogelwe’s award winning sculptor

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. 

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