Journey of an artist

Journey of an Artist - Lebohang Kganye, Sasol New Signatures winner 2017

Sasol New Signatures 2018 saw you exhibit your solo work titled Mohlokomedi wa Tora (Lighthouse Keeper) at the Pretoria Art Museum as part of your prize from 2017. What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The thing that stands out the most about the exhibition opening was sharing the work with my grandmother, who was present at the museum on the night.

If you look at your journey from entrant in 2017 to judge in 2019, what has been some of your highlights?

A few months after receiving the Sasol New Signature award in 2017, I went on a residency to Geneva, Switzerland, which inspired many breakthroughs in the body of work I was conceptualising at the time. In addition, Mohlokomedi wa Tora , my solo exhibition for Sasol is informing a large conceptual and practical framework for my Masters in Fine Arts which I’m currently working towards.

When you were starting out as an emerging artist, what’s the best piece of advice you received - from a mentor, colleague or friend?

To trust the process and allow time for reflection.

This year you are one of the judges. This is a very different role from that of an entrant. Thinking about the emerging, young artists planning to enter this year, how would you answer the question: What is success?

Success for me speaks closely to the concept of grace; an opportunity meeting preparation. Always be prepared, so an opportunity can arrive on fertile soil.

Which current art world trends have caught your attention? What do you see happening in the art world around you, on a local and international level?

I have been drawn to the Virtual Reality (VR) works that are being created. I’ve been observing audiences interacting with VR. I’m interested in the escape or experience that VR allows.

Taking your exposure to the local and international art world into account - is it possible to predict what sort of works will come to the fore this year?

Any attempts at predictions are impossible.

Is this the first time you are taking on the role of judge and what are you most excited about?

I have been invited to be a judge in other areas, but this is my first time judging Sasol New Signatures. I am very excited about being exposed to what my peers are doing and seeing new, emerging artists.

How do you know when a work is finished? Is a piece ever really complete?

I don’t have a single work that I ever felt was complete. I become attached to my work through the process of making it. So stepping away is always a negotiation with self. 

Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

A craft knife!

As a previous winner, how do you seek out opportunities to bring your work to a wider audience?

Applying for different opportunities such as residencies, awards, competition, attending talks and conferences. Building a career in art is the same as building a career in any other field. One has to be active and focussed.

Have you managed to cultivate a collector base? How difficult is this process?

That has mostly happened through my gallery, AFRONOVA Gallery. It takes time to build a collector base.

What is your dream project?

A mechanised life-size installation!

Do you find life as an artist a lonely existence?

As an extrovert, I recharge from being alone. I think my moments of isolation are the most productive as an artist

Looking back over your career what advice would you give to your younger self                   

To be present in the moment, to take everything in and not panic so much. The stars have and will continue to align at the right moments.

Be courageously creative - how would you interpret this statement?

To give birth to your idea