Fine artists want recognition

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Two art teachers, George Bagwasi and Onkabetse Kealeboga, on Friday brought together masterpieces at Thapong Visual Arts Centre inspired by their life experiences.

The pair’s major works were mostly influenced by Botswana’s tradition and history with the main purpose of the exhibition being to raise awareness for Batswana to appreciate art.  Delivering his opening remarks to mark the beginning of the exhibition, coordinator, Reginald Bakwena, described Thapong as the most creative art centre for artists to showcase their work.

“Batswana don’t appreciate art; only foreigners do therefore we want everybody to understand the purpose of art,” he said.

Bakwena added that they have 600 spaces available for artists, but their intention is to cater for everyone.  He commended the two teachers for compiling their masterpieces for the exhibition saying it would motivate upcoming artists.

The artistic journey soon began and everyone was given a chance to take a glimpse at the wonderful art pieces from both men.

Among the paintings that made the journey worthwhile is titled Gods Must Be Crazy by George Bagwasi.

The artwork portrayed the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, Basarwa, and their reaction to new technology like cellphones. Amongst the paintings exhibited by Bagwasi were masterpieces titled Loa Bidiwa Ko Kgotleng and Kgomo Ya Mashi. 

The other artist, Kealeboga was perhaps the most outstanding artist of the day simply because of his ability to tell a story in paintings of three.  In one of his three paintings, he vividly used bright colours to describe the evolvement of music from the legendary Ratsie Setlhako to the use of pianos and today’s DJs.  Kealeboga said there is always a story behind all of his paintings and he uses the series format to make his story complete.

“I started my love for art at an early age and now as a teacher I intend to be an inspiration to all my students and other upcoming artists out there,” he said.  Kealeboga, who effectively combined realism and abstract imagination to produce stoutly imposing pieces, said creating such impressions gave him a lot satisfaction.

“My paintings are about real life situations but I do not like being flat. For instance that piece portrays the friendship between man and dog. A dog is normally a good friend, it never deserts its owner. One has to look intensely into the painting to recognise those different aspects and actually separate the two men with sun glasses from the dog which also has glasses,” Kealeboga said.

One attendants at the exhibition, Linda Pfotenhauer, said she was impressed by the art pieces showcased by both artists.

“They are beautifully painted and it shows their devotion to art,” she said. Pfotenhauer who works as a Managing Editor for Air Botswana’s Peolwane In-flight Magazine said she comes to every exhibition to give exposure to Botswana artists.

“Art is a God-given talent and it should be nurtured,” she said.  

Another member of the audience at the exhibition, Banusi Mbaakanyi from the Ministry of Trade and Industry said the relevant ministries should come together and initiate a strategy for the creative industry to market their products.

She said Botswana artists have a lot of potential, but the challenge is that people do not appreciate art and that artists are not given enough exposure.

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