Lauryn ‘Boogie’ Kebualemang’s latest piece of artwork may not hang in a museum, but those close to her hope someday it will be on display for Batswana to remember one of their departed heroes.
Boogie, an artist from Kanye, recently put the finishing touches to a mural of, Gomolemo Motswaledi, the late opposition leader, who died in a car accident a few months ago. The passionate artist was not commissioned by anyone to do the piece, but did it to honour the departed leader. “I did it after he passed on, it was my small tribute to him,” she says. Surprisingly, the politically shy Boogie says she never knew much about the much-loved Motswaledi and admits the piece was happenstance. She reveals she was touched when she saw multitudes throng the University of Botswana Stadium to bid farewell to him. “I didn’t know the man. I am not into politics. Everyone around me was all about him and his death and so were the newspapers. I got inspired and touched by all that and decided to do the piece,” she says. Unfortunately, the Gaborone-based artist has no contact with his family or his political party, but does have intentions to get the drawing out to the public. The mural was done on a Walcom tablet with colour pencils and she says she spent a good number of hours working on it. She used ArtRage to draw it on canvas.
She adds: “It was a worthwhile four hours.”
Her friends wish it could be placed in a significant place in the city. “Motswaledi was a great man, one wishes this would be on permanent display to honour his sacrifices for his country,” says a close friend of hers. She has been praised for the piece after posting it on Facebook recently and draws encouragement from that. “I’ve done portraits, but this one and the one on the President were really good. My skill has improved as I practice more,” she says. She has an excellent piece on President Ian Khama and rates it one of the best she has done. She adds that after working on the Motswaledi piece, she did a little research on him despite knowing little about him before his death.
The image, whose actual dimensions is 100 by 60
She is convinced Motswaledi’s death had a deep impact on the people. “I think it’s one of those moments that are stamped in our history. We are going to always look back at that, our history, our politics and our democracy. All that has been influenced by his death,” says Boogie.
Boogie did not find it difficult to pick a portrait to work on with a couple of pictures on file.
She says: “I just went with my gut feeling. That image of him just captivated me and, for someone I did not know in person, this portrait kind of introduces him to me.” Before starting her work on the piece, she quickly browsed through his Facebook posts, but had her work cut out as Motswaledi’s posts had been shoved down his timeline by the hundreds of farewell messages Batswana posted. She explains: “(This was) based on what I read on his Facebook page; folks saying he was a good man, loved people, always laughed, had a passion to see our nation geared towards a better future and someone who was charming and a gentleman; I figured that one (image) spoke all that.”
She says she followed the fundamentals she has learned in recent months when doing the portrait. Her conviction is that what makes a portrait work is getting the eyes right and the position of the nose and mouth. More importantly, she adds, is capturing the mood.
She is convinced digital art – a form still alien to Botswana – will not be a sideshow forever. Her pioneering works may just pave way for digital art in the country. The artist also does work on commission. She constantly posts her works on her Facebook page Boogie’s Artwork and reckons it is an important platform to showcase one’s works.
“It helps one get an audience just like all other forms of social media,” she says.