In these gloomy COVID 19 times, art has almost taken a back seat as everyone is trying to make sense of this crisis. However, for one Thamaga native, art is and should be seen as a place of refuge and sanity in this new normal.
Thabo Kgatlhwane, who describes himself as a “walking artist management company “ exudes an incredible amount of enthusiasm for art. This zeal has seen him plan and execute the second edition of the Signature Art Exhibition currently being held at the Nhabe Museum. “The first exhibition was in Gaborone at the Thapong Visual Center but at the end of two weeks we felt like two weeks was not enough to experience such a powerful exhibition and felt compelled to do a second one and so we decided to do a countrywide tour with the second one destined for Maun,” says Kgatlhwane. The second installment showcases distinct pieces from Totang Motoloki, Loretta Mekgwe, Tshediso Kedumetse, Mpho Kgopiso, Itumeleng Motswetla, Tebogo Gaothsabege, and Emafa Williams, allowing artists to demonstrate their signature styles. “It’s not all the time that artists get to have free rein with their pieces as most of their pieces are commissioned work so this theme gives them the freedom to create their signature styles,” the exhibition curator says. “We have realist, abstract, surrealism, and mixed media pieces which are fascinating” notes Kgatlhwane. The exhibition commenced on the 31st of July and will draw to a close on the 28th of August.
As far as passions go, the mere mention of the word art evokes a lot of affection from Kgatlhwane. An avid promoter of the arts, Kgatlhwane admits that though he has never tried his hand at a canvas, he has always been intrigued by the art scene. “My first memory of art was watching Bob Ross paint and I have been hooked ever since, “ he recalls. Despite his evident passion for art, it took a psychology theory to finally take the bold step of pursuing a career in arts. “I was studying psychology and in one of the modules, I came across the Maslow – Hierarchy which illustrates what the optimum life is supposed to look like. The optimum level is self-actualization where you feel I am here and I am doing what I love and I started with that and finding something that makes me smile for no reason and try and make everything else from that” he mentions.
Quizzed on why he deems art a worthy cause to promote, Kgatlhwane reiterates his love for art and its significance in preserving culture. “ I love seeing beautiful things and I love taking beautiful things to people. Batswana need to understand that art is an important part of our culture. When you think back to Greek Mythology and Egypt, you know about them cos of paintings and hieroglyphics”.
Kgatlhwane also wants artists to live up to their fullest potential and reap monetary rewards for their efforts. “ I don’t want artists to die and too many people let their art die. I had a schoolmate who excelled in arts but unfortunately, didn’t do well in other subjects and now he works in a coffee shop “ he laments. Kgatlhwane further goes on to plead the artist’s case, “ I have a friend, Prince Tom and he says he puts a bit of soul into each art piece, and people need to understand that artists are bearing their souls and monetary gain is something they need to keep creating. “