A case in point is the on-going International Baccalaureate Art Exhibition at the Botswana National Museum. The exposition, organized by art students from the Westwood International School, is displaying the works of teenage students.
The art on display does not only show raw talent but also proves that the youngsters are highly inspired by the physical and psychological powers in daily life. They sketched and recreated their world as an escape route from miseries, frailties and imperfections attendant in human life.
Iona Atanassova, whose works are at the exhibition, is a formidable artist and well in touch with her emotions. She is one young lady who is fired up with passion. Through her pencil strokes, she cuts a path through the maze of life, loosing herself into a world of her own imagination. In her piece, titled 'In the mirror/winter to Spring', the young lady translated onto the canvas the gory details found in humanity. On top is a completely naked woman astride a tree branch, with her back arched forward like a jockey on her pony.
It is a beautiful image, with a good mood about nature's good offerings. Still in the painting, underneath the tree branch is a contradiction. The artist, in an attempt to portray the paradox in life, shows a grotesque distorted reflection of the 'original figure' on top. Painted against a background of black is a wrinkled figure, a face with pale gaunt cheeks, sagging breasts and bony skeletal hands clutching onto nothing. It is a picture of despair and decay.
"This work is about mortality." She said. "Our main fear as people is death."
Art or life is not just about misery and foreboding. Meng-Chu Qiao, also showcasing her works at the museum, has created a work depicting love and relaxation. She manipulated colours and threw in a picture of a thatched mud hut. Symbolism, here, has been used to paint the joy that usually consumes one when they think about their homes.
The piece makes the popular saying that 'home is where the heart is' more factual. Appreciating the power of colour, she has used the so-called earth colours; light brown, dark and a blue sky colour for the clouds to execute this thematic substance. She uses texture and image to enhance "the emotions I am trying to respond to," says Qiao. She said she got most of her inspiration from compatriot Qi Baishi, an accomplished master of Chinese calligraphy and art. Another telling work is that of Ashley Butler who painted a picture of hope. Her piece, titled 'Joy In The Dark', encourages us to remain hopeful in the face of despair. In the painting, the background is black, while the view is a silhouette of a man, engulfed in barbed wire. The source of inspiration, she says, is "the people around me." "What you have seen in my works are the people in my life and what they mean to me," she explained.
According to Erika Hibbert, the arts teacher who spent two years instructing the exhibitors, the works were done after a lot of research. The work, she says, is part of the IB (International Baccalaureate) to qualify them for admission at university level. "They went around interviewing local artists and those in South Africa. After doing the primary and secondary research, they then came up with their individual pieces, which you have just seen," she said.