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Keabetswe captures expressions through facial portraits

NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE
Keabetswe is also in the process of setting up an online store to sell his artworks
Fine artists capture expressions in various forms and for 19-year-old University of Botswana student Oteng Keabetswe, he fell in love with drawing human portraits from a young age and it is now his trademark.

From drawing Spiderman cartoons to impressing his age mates during his early childhood days to a refined fine artist he is now, the young man who hails from Tutume said he had never felt prouder. 

Even though the fine artist explores other art categories like surrealism and wildlife,  he revealed to Arts & Culture that 90% of his artworks were portraits that captured moods and expressions.

 “Personally faces/portraits always tell us how people are feeling, whether they are struggling, depressed, worried or jovial,” Keabetswe said in an interview.

“I believe we understand a person better looking at their facial expression, therefore it made me to have more zest in the field of portrait drawing. My art is aimed at making people aware of the power of facial expressions.”

Keabetswe explained that in the process of portrait drawing, he usually uses 120gsm papers and various pencils like graphite and charcoal pencils. He reflected that when he completed his Form 5 in 2018 he had more time to focus on his art.

It was again during that epoch that the society started showing interest in his art and started commissioning his work and coincidentally, that was when he also started doing his personal collections too.

 Keabetswe is now in his second year as a professional fine artist. He emphasised that interacting with different people always inspired him to get his sketchpad and pencil and capture their facial expressions on paper.

 “One of my favourite drawings is my latest one named Thiba Matho. It’s an A2 charcoal drawing. It features a young child with soft wrinkled hands engulfing her

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face with a reflection on his father chasing the mother, who happens to be carrying another child on her back, (abuse). I love it because it tells a story and spreads a message to the community through the portrayal,” he explained.  Keabetswe said with hard work and consistency  his artworks were slowly becoming more and more recognised. “Many people love and support my work and stand a chance to be drawn.”

 Keabetswe is also in the process of setting up an online store to sell his artworks, adding that he has met some potential customers through Facebook at far places like the United Kingdom.

The fine artists said for the past years, he has only been able to attend one exhibition, Francistown Arts Meeting, that was held in November 2019.

Keabetswe said distance to the market has been a challenge, because he has customers from other countries whom he sometimes fail to deliver their artworks, especially under the coronavirus (COVID-19) climate.

 Keabetswe said he was very proud to have worked with some of local musicians like DJ Latimmy and Vee Mampeezy who purposefully influenced his growth.

Even said attending the Francistown Arts Meeting was a great achievement as it was his first time exhibiting his work there, he said.

 “Looking at how COVID-19 has affected my work, I would say generally COVID-19 became an opportunity for me and my art,” Keabetswe said.

“People were always busy and unable to see our artworks but due to COVID-19, they have no choice. During the lockdown I was able to attract more audience and customers locally.”



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