Some fine artists feel they are held back from painting because they do not have the space to do so. That has never been the case for Ronald Kegomoditswe.
All he ever dreamt of was having his own studio, a space where he would paint everyday. He didn’t let the beautiful photos of other artists’ studios on Instagram or Facebook leave him feeling defeated.
As he ventured into the world of art, one of the first things he put some thought into was a studio. He knew that working in a poor environment could really hurt his performance. In Tlokweng village, Kegomoditswe has rented a room in a big house and turned it into his holy place designed specifically for the goal of making art.
He has proven that having a studio to call his own does not need a lot of money and big sacred place, but what really matters is transforming whatever he had into one unique temple of creativity. It is now that room where he has experienced and brought forth some of the best artworks in his career.
As Arts & Culture got into his studio the ambiance was more than just a physical space, but a place where both meditation and practice combine to nurture his creativity. The studio features a small display of Kegomoditswe’s recent paintings and they appear in colour and in detail. There is a bed where he sleeps and the studio is filled with all the materials and supplies he needs. Next to his bed is a table where he puts his books for inspiration and another small table to mix his paints.
Canvases can be seen lying-about and it looks like he has one for every mood. He put painted denim caps on the table while painted sneakers are nicely put on the floor. There is a wall where he has hanged some of his best paintings. The room boasts of plenty of artificial light for painting at night and one has got to admire the sanctuary he has created for himself. An easel where Kegomoditswe had put a painting he has just started working on makes the oasis of the room. There is a couch overlooking the room and it seems like a place where there are no distractions and he can easily lose himself in his work.
Interestingly as one looks around the studio, there are paintings of half-naked females and they are quite hard to miss. The artist from Sefhophe’s brush sees women’s beauty through an alternative perspective in nudity. He has some of the most aggressive colours with the much-needed punch to lure in his viewers. He delivers each inch of flesh in lengthy, radiant brushwork.
Kegomoditswe told Arts & Culture that art has taught him to appreciate everything. “I love women because I was raised by a single mother and it is a way of showing appreciation. Art has grown so much today, golo mo gase morogano (this is no longer a slur),” he opined. Kegomoditswe said nudity in art is nothing close to pornography as some people think.
“These are consumed in high volumes but our morals as Batswana often clash with these new ideas,” he highlighted. Kegomoditswe said even though some of his artworks are nudity, he tries by all means to cover elaborate parts.
Kegomoditswe added that the reason he set up his studio in the same place where he sleeps is because he prefers to be in an environment that inspires him to work whenever he wants. “I had to come up with ways that will keep me motivated all the time that is why I dedicated the room that I sleep in for my craft. I didn’t want a situation where the studio would be far from where I stay,” he said.
Kegomoditswe is not just a canvas man, but he also paints caps, denim jackets and sneakers. He looks back at how he started this in 2014 with support from friends. “My friends were in tertiary school and it was a way to get P50 from each of them by painting their denim jackets and caps,” he said. “I got the customising sneaker idea from my twin who took my shoes and painted them by giving it a fresh look,” he said. He was quick to reveal that the paint is durable.
The artist who not so long ago sold his P22,000-worth artwork to Rwandan First Lady Jeannette Kagame said he does not limit himself as an artist and it is no wonder he does realism, abstract and conceptual art. “My clients want different things and it is also an opportunity for me to sell artworks outside Botswana,” he said. The artist who has been doing art fulltime for the last five years also revealed that compared to other artists locally he does not enter competitions but rather focuses on selling his artworks. “These competitions come once in a year so I cannot really depend on them,” he said. Kegomoditswe was quick to appreciate the fact that he gets most of his support from Batswana compared to foreigners.
The artist, who was based in Selebi Phikwe before, said he has done a lot of exhibition before in 2016 and 2017 in Phikwe.
Kegomoditswe said his artworks have been exhibited before in the US even though he did not attend in person. “I am collecting some artworks for my upcoming exhibition in the US next year and this time I will fly there to attend in person,” he added.
Kegomoditswe advised upcoming artists that hard work beats talent if talent does not work hard. He said students should balance their subjects and avoid making the same mistakes he made when he passed only Art as a subject.
“They should do this so that they can go and study Art at an advanced level,” he said. Kegomoditswe said that he does not want them to experience the current situation where artists are being exploited because they lack various skills.