The exhibition which is in line with President Ian Khama's directive that two programmes of performing and visual arts be held to celebrate National Heritage Day, has brought the country's most outstanding artists together in a display of their handiworks.
It features a variety of artistic works ranging from drawings to sculpture, craft, mixed media and graphics. A lot of works on display depict elements of both African and Western cultures but the Setswana culture is predominant as can be seen by carved black old men, Bushmen herding cattle, kgosi conducting a Kgotla meeting, among others.
Most viewers seemed awe struck by the woodcarvings and sculptures. It is amazing how a mere mopane tree (colophospermam mopane) can be chopped and chiselled into animals and people figurines and statutes with the look and feel of real animals and human beings.
There are also paintings and drawings that express different emotions. Examples being paintings of Basarwa, wild animals and crying babies clinging tightly to their mothers' backs. There are also miscellaneous presentations of animals like elephants and rhinos made from wires and steel.
Some of the artworks that cannot escape the keen eye of the connoisseur are Kefilwe Mokopane's abstract oil on canvas painting entitled "Soul Soothing". Mokopane is well known for his brightly coloured pieces with musical themes. "Soul Soothing" is certainly a beauty to behold.
Wilson Ngoni has mounted two thought-provoking pieces namely "Teachings of Meleko" and "8 Days of The Week". Although Ngoni's works are more realistic, they are hard to interpret. Teachings of Meleko, which is an oil on canvas piece features mostly naked people in different scenes involved in what appear to be traditional rituals. A haunting scene shows a human figure trying to climb out of what appears to be a well."8 Days" depicts a naked woman lying in the desert, not far from where she is lies is a white cow. The artist mergers the strange scene with an outline of a lion in the horizon towards the setting of the sun.One cannot help assuming that Ngoni's works are interpretations of visions and dreams he has because they feature things out of the ordinary.
Totang Motoloki's mixed media piece "Love" cannot escape the eye of a discerning
art-lover. The piece showcases a boy dressed in tattered clothes playing the guitar and the boy appears to be in love with the guitar that he is caressing passionately.
"Mokgalajwe", a fibreglass sculpture by talented artist Isaac Chibua will most certainly catch the eye of any art-lover. The piece would remind most people of their grandfathers back in the village.
During the opening of the breathtaking exhibition, art-lovers were treated to jazzy vibes by a band. The band kept the event alive with its rapturous tunes. The songs were kept at a rather mid tempo with the distorted guitar riff buried under the incessant buzz of the amused audience.
Attendants also had an opportunity to wine and dine around huge fires that kept the atmosphere warm and conducive for the national event. There was plenty of traditional food like bogobe and seswaa served free of charge.
Though some of the artists were very delighted about the likely outcomes of the exhibition, they expressed concern over certain issues. According to one artist by the name Ivy Radipudi, there is little space in the exhibition room.
"It is very crowded and things are lying all over," she complained. Radipudi added this forced the exhibition organisers to take some of the works to Thapong Visual Centre'.
Keatlaretse Kwati, an art teacher from Molefhi Senior Secondary School, echoed Radipudi's sentiments. Kwati went on to express concern that there is an overwhelming submission of quality work from upcoming artists, which will decline if no appropriate measures are taken to address the space issue. She cited Wilson Ngoni as one of the many upcoming artists that have submitted very challenging and conceptualised traditional artwork.
"I am very impressed to see artists like Wilson Ngoni submit forms of art that make one wonder what the artist was trying to communicate," she said. Kwati concluded by pointing out that this is one of the most outstanding art exhibitions she has ever seen in terms of attendance and quality of the works submitted.Meanwhile, the exhibition will continue until August 11 when the winner will be decided and others honoured for their contribution to Botswana's cultural development. Two invited foreign judges and four local ones will decide the winner.