Botswana in his brush

Kabelo Dipholo

Ngoni inspires artists at 2nd F/town Arts Meeting

One of the country’s finest fine artists, Wilson Ngoni was amongst the reputable names that graced the second edition of the annual Francistown Arts Meeting (FAM) last week.

Held under the theme: Art Beyond Studio, FAM has emerged as an arts flagship in the second city.

The three-day event was officially opened by MYSC Arts and Culture Policy Specialist, Gaokgakala Lemmenyane.

The packed itinerary included an indoor exhibition and a visual arts workshop at Chedu Choga Hall featuring some of Botswana’s top artists such as Loretta Mekgwe, Obed Mkhuhlani, Bezuba Kaunda, and experienced Water Colourist, Segolame Kabo.

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On the closing day, FAM moved to the Kenneth Nkhwa Interchange with a thought-provoking exhibition on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

During one of the workshops, Ngoni, who no longer sports his once trademark natty dreads but rather a common brush cut, urged his fellow artists to turn their many challenges into opportunities. Warning against what he termed ‘promiscuity’, Ngoni further advised his colleagues to let their art do the talking.

“Customers don’t want to see your faces, they just want your art,” stressed the world-renowned painter.

He further disclosed that from his countless interactions with international artists, they often mention how lucky Batswana are for having a supportive government.

“In other countries, government support is totally none existent. Artists across the world are facing challenges and it is up to us as individuals to come up with solutions. Covid-19 cannot be an excuse, in fact, it should not even be considered as a challenge to an artist,” he declared.

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“What is key to achievement is work ethic. You’ve to keep pushing. The biggest challenge for a lot of artists is promiscuity. They want to do everything instead of focusing and perfecting their craft. Covid-19 is the perfect time for artists to thrive,” he reiterated.

Ngoni added after realising opportunities to host exhibitions had greatly diminished, he decided to publish a book that can be purchased by anyone from anywhere around the world.

Botswana in his brush

The internationally acclaimed artist released a compilation book titled ‘Living with the Brush’ in December last year. It is a coffee table book of a collection of his work randomly picked from across his career, which now spans roughly three decades.

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“This is a catalog. It’s an advert that carries the Wilson Ngoni brand even during such hard times,” he said.

Ngoni further said although he has been advised countless times to relocate to Europe where his art is more likely to be better appreciated and even potentially earn him millions, he made a conscious decision to remain in the country and help develop the industry.

“I’ve attended some of the biggest exhibitions across Europe, where art enthusiasts would come from all over the world to view the works of an acclaimed artist. This is what I also want for Botswana,” he said.

“My hope is that if I stay focused, one day people across the world will come here and pay money to view and study our works,” concluded Ngoni.

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