FRANCISTOWN: Driven by wild imagination, dreams, movies and song, Tamara Lopang has broken from the common shackles of traditional realistic art to go into the mysterious abstract art.
In local art circles abstract is not common. Many artists play it safe with less controversial art. The commercial market is still held to traditional art forms that are more self-defined.
Born in 1994 at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital, Lopang is on a mission to impact the local art landscape and conquer the international art stage. She defines herself as a self-taught artist.
She said she briefly studied art while a student at John Mackenzie School (JMS), but had to cut it short when she had to choose Science subjects as per her parent’s wishes.
“I did not do enough art at JMS and it was also not that interesting to me then. I had a rough time with bullies at school and I only did pencil art to vent out my anger,” she said.
“My parents did not approve of my artworks and wished I become a doctor in future and they convinced me to do science subjects,” she said.
Lopang never took her artistic talent seriously until three years ago after breaking off her second tertiary course.
After JMS she went on to study Library and Information studies at the University of Botswana where she spent two years before she dropped the course.
She grew to love cartoon art, which she pursued at Limkokwing University studying programming and specialising in animation.
Along the way she started painting cartoons to pass the time and she fell in love with the paintbrush. The paintings evoked the underlying artist in her and she dropped the programming course.
Ever since she has not looked back. She displayed her pieces in a number of poetry sessions and comedy shows here and the people approved. Already she has done commercial pieces for a number of clients.
“Commercial is a bit challenging because customers bring concepts of what they want and do not appreciate that as artists we see things differently.”
“It is not easy
She said as time went on after reading about abstract art, she did one piece and she never did anything else after that.
“Abstract art defines me, it helps me take out my own feelings. It is also more elusive and communicates deep emotional thoughts and it is also a bit more controversial.”
She said she would love to exhibit her works at Thapong Visual Arts Centre, but most of her pieces are provocative. She currently displays at Molapo Leisure Gardens here every last Sunday of the month.
Her art is also accessible through her Facebook page ‘Arts By Tehlai X’.
“I am getting positive feedback through my exhibitions and I think slowly but surely Batswana are opening their minds to art.”
Lopang said she is working her way into the local art industry, but her target is to exhibit at international platforms.
She said unlike most local artists who choose to play it safe with traditional touches in their modern art she keeps her art open.
“Art has got no boundary, it can reach as far as wherever (you please). Of course I would love one day to brush shoulders with top local artists, but my focus is more international.
“I don’t hold back anything, my artworks are just too imaginary and probably too controversial hence I am eyeing international exhibitions. I am confident my art will do well internationally.”
She said her challenges including pricing that seems too steep for local folks. She said local art is male dominated and people tend to approach males before females, disregarding the quality of the output.
Lopang is an artist, a photographer, a poet and a singer. She is the first born followed by her two brothers and she has a daughter.