Intraparadox Interview with Thato Seboko: Dye my Memories


12 April 2016

Pretoria Art Museum



I spoke to Thato Seboko on the morning of 12 April ahead of the opening of his solo on 16 April at the Mellow House Factory in Tshwane, Hatfield. The artist was excited about his first upcoming solo exhibition which would feature a new body of work comprising of 16 artworks. For that exhibition he had been working with a new media – Hair Dye, which is a non traditional art making material and can be looked upon as a new vehicle for artistic expression and thematic enunciation as far as new media is concerned. However since the artist retains a figurative approach in dealing with his subject matter something of fine art tradition is retained with regard to form but the accepted media of delivery is challenged

Intraparadox Interview with Thato Seboko, Dye My Memories 12 April 2016. EvaporatedForestMIX

I had the opportunity to work with the artist during his time at the Pretoria Art Museum between 2012 – 2014 during that time in terms of scale, his work was very intimate as was evidenced during his subsequent participations in the For Sale Project Exhibition series. The handling of both pencil and ink gave the impression and effect of printmaking and acknowledged his draughtmanship skills while his paintings were treated with an economy that bellied modesty as far as application is concerned. From what the artist told me during our conversation he is still inspired by family, friends and the people who have tagged along in his life journey both for a long haul or for a shorter period.

On the occasion of Thato Seboko’s upcoming exhibition of which I asked to interview him about his new work I presupposed that he had retained that aspect of his art making preoccupation but that he would be advancing a new vehicle to deliver what is synonymous with his work. I was not proven otherwise when I had the chance to see the work at the opening at the Mellow House Factory on 16 April 2016. The canvas surface was acknowledged and the tint sepia effect that we spoke about in our interview prior to the exhibition opening was unmistakably visible. There were strong works in the exhibition which carried works that one felt more time would’ve done them justice. One left the exhibition space hopeful of the artistic journey that lies ahead of Seboko.

During my interview with the artist we sketched his upbringing in Itsoseng, North West. As usual in Intraparadox paradigm we probed the first contact that the artist had with art and his subsequent formal training as well as the context within which these developments took place. Presently we draw conclusions that the artist is negotiating a new visual vehicle through the use of hair dye. One can conclude that perhaps this solo exhibition, Dye My Memories, will be one of the career milestones of Thato Seboko in the current year and as the artists believes it will open doors for more exhibitions considering the bravery of the use of a new vehicle – hair dye. For me personally I think it is a bolt move for the artist to experiment with new media on a two dimensional surface, a surface which has seen so much experimentation. One always thinks there is nothing to surprise the art world anymore until one stumbles across innovation. In this light Thato Seboko has de-contextualized Hair Dye from within the grooming industry, isolated it and re-contextualization it within the fine art world. The only ingredient wanting in Seboko’s modus operandi is more time to refine the art making technique process and reclaim the medium as synonymous with his oeuvre. May we find the artist.


Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Good morning Ntate Seboko

Thato Seboko: Ahee

MAK: Thanks for agreeing to see me ahead of your exhibition uhm you know we are so fortunate today we are doing this interview, your benefactor, if you allow me to say so, is here with you, accompanying you, it’s a first for Intraparadox which is actually a platform whereby we interview artists biographically because we are interested in the story behind the artist Uhm but we will get into that a little later because that concerns your exhibition which is in Hatfield neh?

TS: Yes it is

MAK: Yes, I would like us to focus on the basic question that maybe people who are interested in your work may want to ask you, especially your background, your up bringing, I would like us to sketch uhm your biography in terms of where you were born, your training, your education uhm and then later on we will move into your exhibition.

TS: okay

MAK: and we will round off with your upcoming exhibition. So welcome to Intraparadox

TS: Okay thanks for having me

MAK: Yes, you originally are from North West, am I correct?

TS: Yes you are correct. I am from a township called Itsoseng in the North West, basically that’s where I grew up

MAK: Yes and, a lot of people who come to Tshwane to study, one can look at them as educational migrants

TS: Yes (laughs)

MAK: …if there is such a word – educational migrants, uhm what was your experience when you arrived in Tshwane

TS: uhm when I arrived in Tshwane first of all was the language ‘cause I am actually Tswana my self. So coming to Petoria and finding people who [are] speaking Pedi and its very confusing, some of the words that they use, or like it’s the same word but different meaning altogether. And the diversity of races ‘’cause I grew up in a place where, mostly even the schools I have attended there were black people mostly I never went to a multi racial school. So coming into the city was a different environment altogether. But I took it as a challenge if I had to, you know. That I am suppose to adapt to the space

MAK: yes…

TS: and you know don’t be an island. Get to know the people of this city so that you can live peacefully, ….and yah that was my experience

MAK: Tell me uhm did it demand a lot of adjustment coming from an exclusively black school into a multi racial environment as far as Tshwane University of Technology Fine and Applied Art ….

TS: …not at all…

MAK: … is concerned…

TS: …nah, not exactly, ehh, I could, I am well spoken so to speak, so interacting with people has never been an issue for me. Whether you are white or black it has never been an issue for me. So it was not much of a transition but you know I had to adjust to the space so I am not using your home language a lot but you are going to use English a lot to communicate with people around you…that was most of the things

MAK: Yes, and your primary schooling ehh was there art education in your primary schooling? You know I can see that you were at Ponelope Primary School

TS: yes it is the primary school I went to

MAK: Yah there was never an art subject but we mostly had subjects like ehh Art and Culture. That was the basis of my art but there was never an art class, art class, where [you] use materials to do your work it was mostly collages and colouring in especially in primary and you move on to middle school and there is a transition where they connect the art with the culture that was within the subject but there was never, you know, to teach us how to draw or how to paint or something like that. They just let us create according to the brief or how we understood the task itself that was given.


Ditlogolo.Dye on canvas.2016
Seboko, Thato. Ditlogolo, 2016. Hair dye on canvas. Dimensions unavailable

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Let’s stay a little bit with when you talk about a combination of the Visual Art and Arts and Culture. In your own opinion ehh is it a good thing, looking at South African art education in your opinion as an artist, as a fine artist, as a practicing artist, is it a good thing to combine Fine Art with Culture ehh you can answer this question as honestly as possible as you can…

Thato Seboko: (chuckles)

MAK: …and it has nothing to do with betrayal of culture

TS: ehh sometimes there is a misre…? ….misrepresentation – sekgowa English, – where one person from one culture from their… I don’t think it is a good idea to tell you the truth because mostly it is about perspective on how you grew up with your culture as a person as a whole. We are from different places or homes. We might be, I might be Tswana and somebody is Tswana but when we come into one space you find that the things that my parents taught me from within the culture are mostly different from the other person even though we’re actually Tswana. Combining the two uhm is mostly subjective I would say, it is not speaking for the masses it is mostly for you and trying to show the world or to depict what your culture is

MAK: …so in other words you are diplomatically saying here that visual art should be separate from culture ehh as far as subjects are concerned because if you bring them together you create chaos

TS: Yes.

MAK: Thank you for your honesty

TS: Ok (laughs)

MAK: let’s move a little bit into your interests here

TS: ok

MAK: uhm you grew up in Itsoseng and you went to Ponelepele Primary School ehh which was the primary school and you went on to a middle school which is called Popagano Middle School and later on you went to high school. Comparing your primary schooling and your high schooling obviously middle schooling is a transitional phase, in terms of visual art education did it exist in high school? When you reach high school was there any art education?

TS: Yeh there was still, obviously for middle schooling you had Arts ad Culture and now you have life orientation and in that subject there are aspects of art in it

MAK: Yes? (encouragingly)…

TS: where they teach you life skills, life orientation and stuff about art also and we get to connect things art and life in terms of like, we would tackle issues such as HIV and AIDS and we had to make a poster of it or create something artwork just to send a message. The transition yes, it was there and it was good. You learned a lot.

MAK: In other words are you saying to us that your high school education, did it pave a way for you when you reached tertiary education level? Did it make the switch from high school level to tertiary level smoother for you?

TS: uhm I wouldn’t say completely completely, but yah it made it easier

MAK: …alright thank you. Let us now look at the most important question now, when did you come into contact with art with visual art in terms of you recognizing that you wanted to pursue a career in the visual art?

TS: eh my contact with art was at the age of seven

MAK: mhuh

TS: in the family I am the fourth child of five kids I have two older brothers and a sister and that’s me and I have a little brother behind me. My second older brother had this thing of drawing everyday. So I remember one day he told me that ‘Thato you should stay away from my stuff, whatever you do don’t open my bag, don’t go through my stuff’ (laughs at the memory) obviously I am a kid…


MAK: …were you defacing his drawings…

TS: Yah so I came,…I remember the first time I came into contact with his drawing book and …it awakened something in me like you know what …I got even chills I remember the feeling very well I got chills and everything. I got excited about working with it and in my head I went …this is what I want to do with my life, this brings excitement to me this is what I wanna do. I have always knew from that age that I wanted to be part of the art world when I grow up or… yah so that’s when I came into contact with it. From that day I started to copy his drawings or anything I could find in magazines or… I had a cousin also we would draw from TV like cartoons will be there, that was before the whole Tazos and everything, if you could not find the image of the cartoon that you liked you’d draw straight from the TV. The whole thirty minutes of the cartoon

MAK: memory

TS: (laughs) yah the whole episode you draw and you will have the full image of it. So that’s pretty much my life story of art so I started to draw… I am mostly self-taught I was never really taught how to draw until I University of course

MAK: I find what you are saying interesting because I mean you grow up at the time whereby there were no PVRs so you can’t pause TV

TS: (laughs) yah you cant pause TV

MAK: It must be a miracle to some of us today to pause TV make coffee and continue, huh,

TS: and continue

MAK: we never thought it would come to this. So it sharpened you memory to,… I mean it sharpened you retentive memory to be able to look at something and remember what it looked like

TS: Yes

MAK: to reproduce it on a flat surface.

TS: on a flat surface

MAK: What was the response uhm to your family when you told them that you wanted to study art, I mean you know – when you finished you matric?

TS: my high school

MAK: Was there a resistance from your family?

TS: There was a bit of resistance ‘cause, I remember we held a family you know gathering type of a thing and they were like Thato you done with your schooling and you’ve passed so what do you actually want to do and I looked them straight in the eyes and I am like isn’t obvious? I draw every day so I want to do art and my mom was like ‘don’t you think you should do something else, that will bring you income when you done?’ and I am like I don’t want to do something that will waste your money or the family’s money or I end u dropping out. I want to go into a field that I know I am going to dedicate my energy into like passing the course itself and you know after finishing the course I can pursue it. So there was a bit of resistance (smiles) and putting it on record I gave them an ultimatum that is either I am going to school to study art or I am not going to school at all.  

MAK: So you forced them to concede?

TS: (laughs) yah pretty much, so cool they thought about it and then I came to Pretoria and self registered

MAK: yes

TS: and I found out that Fine Arts had space cause

MAK: this is in 2009 you arrive in Pretoria in 2010

TS: Yes so I arrived here and found out that Fine Arts had space ‘cause it was my third option of the courses I wanted to study, one of them was…the first option was Graphic Design and Multi-Media and Fine Arts I was willing to settle with either one but I did a bit of research anyway during school so …always knew that I wanted to pursue this art thing

MAK: Lets talk a little bit about your time at Tshwane University of Technology Fine and Applied Arts uhm you arrived there in 2010 and as you have already told us earlier on that it was not a huge adjustment in terms of ehh the institution’s culture, you were able to settle in you know pretty much without a hassle uhm what did you think of the courses that you had to do in terms of being trained now formally as an artist when you were experiencing them for the first time, you know having went through a situation when art was taught to you was mixed with culture and we’ve just spoke about how in Primary maybe partly in Middle School uhm you know it was problematic to mix the two. Now lets talk about your experience of now learning about art purely, purely about art


Thato Seboko: Uhm I found that, seeing that I don’t have an art background, and I came into contact with people who did art, most of the things that I did they would say that I am doing it all wrong ’cause obviously they are trained eh with the lecturers also – they told me what to do and what not to do and it kinda…, how will I put it? What you have been doing it’s a little bit wrong so you should kinda fix it and I did not have a problem with that because it only meant you know enhancing my skills as an artist. So my first experience in art in TUT was an eye opener to tell you the truth ’cause I knew art to a certain degree. Now when you are in university the box is completely opened you get to learn a lot bout artists, how to draw, shades, different tones, which paints to use so on and so on. It was an over flux of information that I did not have access to ’cause one thing that I have noticed about the art world or art school – people outside of it don’t really know much about what’s going on about art. So in order to know more about art you are suppose to enter that world. So it was a different world altogether for me. I had a bit of information of course but getting into it was something else.

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Initially what did you enjoy about the training that you received? Lets look at your art making technique, your first year there ehh did you enjoy all of these art making techniques which were taught to you or there was one that really took…you enjoyed it you felt comfortable when you got introduced to that art making technique?

Thato S: Ehh it was painting for one. All the 2D subjects…

Mmutle AK: …drawing, painting, print making…

TS: mostly, yah all those 2D and I had one 3D module which actually you know was glass. Like what I saw when hey made the glasses, how they produced their vases and everything was fascinating and when I went into my second year I chose painting and glass only to find out that glass is not within my personality (laughs)

MAK: So uhm are you saying here that you realized that glass was not for you or

TS: It’s not for me, it was not for me at all ehh because, one of the reasons was, because I am a 2D artist I produce one piece and that’s it! Whereas with glass its suppose to be a mass production type of a thing going on. Not that I am lazy but its just one of those things. I am particular into one thing and if I have to make a replica of it does not sit well with me

MAK: so you are not a fan of replication

TS: no, not really

MAK: But did you do print making?

TS: I did

MAK: What was your reaction to print making because print making ehh you know you are making one work and it’s a multiple

TS: One thing that I like about the techniques ’cause in print making you have etching, you have linocut, you have silk-screening and you have intaglio and like with each technique comes a certain skill into it that’s why I actually love it so much, you get to learn a lot about print making and stuff. Like doing something with your hand you know the whole image with your hand. It’s similar to painting but you are doing it on another level, on another platform so that’s what I like about print making. Having not to pass glass I had to change the module and I chose print making and I remember before that I had a word with my professor, professor Stevens, and we talked about it, like which other module-subject do you like? I’m like print making. Ok its good for you and I’ve seen your marks anyway [of] all your 2D subjects, you are an average of 70% student so I think 2D print making will be good for you

MAK: So you majored in drawing and printmaking?

TS: Yah and painting

MAK: Drawing, print making and painting

TS: Yes


MAK: uhm lets move a little away from your first year. Now as you are studying at TUT did you start participating in exhibitions? While you were there or it was much later when you left and if so what was a the feeling that you had when you had the opportunity to exhibit for the first time?

TS: ehh while I was studying at TUT in my third year I felt like at school we’re not really expose to the art world itself outside school. So I was looking for something to do outside of school that’s when I had a talk with my painting lecturer Jan Van Der Merwe he said you know at the Pretoria Art Museum they hold a program there, and he said your name, connect with Arthur. I’ll give you their numbers and you can call them and be part of the program. And then I did that and I had a meeting with you

MAK: yes

TS: …and we talked, talked and the very same year, the experience before, my first exhibition was that… wow… there is a lot here in the outside world that we do not know much about, that we are not really taught about at school, so you need to be exposed to the real world so you have to be trained in the programme of the EA’ S, Education Assistance Programme – volunteers, to be tour guides, to organize exhibitions to do all those things. So taking part, my first exhibition was actually For Sale, For Sale Exhibition there at TUT Art Gallery which was very much open the very same year. So we’re one of the few people to actually open an exhibition…

MAK: in the gallery at TUT

TS: So the institution itself does not really give platforms for students to really exhibit until the fourth year. The only exhibition that we have is when they’re doing the markings and you have to set up your work there for lecturers to come and see and of course and to allow the students to walkabout

MAK: Let’s talk about that a little bit. Do you think it is a good idea that an artist, they’re going to be formally trained. Let just take it for granted that, you know, an artist is born an artist. An artist is not defined by formal training, in your own opinion do you think it is a good idea that an artist is held back before they get an opportunity to exhibit until they reach fourth year. What do you think?

TS: I don’t think it is a good idea, ’cause I believe in the saying that the earlier the better. If you get exposed to something earlier then you will know what to do and what not to do the next time. So I am thinking before, ’cause in my head I m thinking when you are fourth year you are almost matured, you know the theory, the basics and everything you know but you haven’t really exhibited. So the institution should give the students the opportunity to exhibit before your fourth year

MAK: yes. Now lets move away from both the art museum as well as TUT. You graduated sometime in, am I correct to say in 2014 that’s when you finished at TUT?

TS: I completed my diploma in 2013 and yah the graduation was in 2014

MAK: yah how was life, you’ve just spoken about how at the end of the fourth year period with an institution, if an artist has not had the privilege to exhibit you know ehh that artist has not experience the outside world. What was your experience when you graduated from TUT, when you left


MAK: …the formal institution? And we can even argue and say when you now go into art practice because now you are a practicing artist. What was your experience?


Thato Seboko: My experience was… now I had to find opportunities to exhibit my work. I had to produce work so I can have exhibitions. So that alone, you are alone there is nobody to help you there. So it’s a bit of a struggle finding places to go and exhibit because we are approaching like galleries and they are saying your work is not fit for their gallery, so you have to…it’s a trial and take, you try and try and try until you get that one. Fortunately in 2014 I had an exhibition in St. Lorient

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Yes I am aware of that exhibition that took place at St. Lorient Fashion and Art Gallery and it was called The Creative Mélange exhibition. What was your experience with that exhibition? Now that’s an exhibition beyond your tertiary training as an artist.

TS: It was a great opportunity to tell you the truth it was a great opportunity for the gallery giving the opportunity to exhibit there. My experience was that… putting… group exhibitions are mhum something to tell you the truth ’cause you have different artists in one space. Yah, and with me in particular my work was different from other peoples work ’cause it was merely-merely mostly in fact all of my work was mostly printmaking

MAK: and you work figuratively

TS: yes! I don’t do abstract work at all. So my work was

MAK: figurative and printmaking

TS: and print making. I thought the people who were coming to the gallery would appreciate the technique. Yes people would appreciate the technique of course but I find that my style of working is not really, it has not reached a lot of people yet. I saw it as a beginning stage to expose my printmaking technique to the world.

MAK: So now would you describe your work as… you know if you look at art you find some artists they are really preoccupied with subject matter and you find artists who are preoccupied with technique, their work is technique based. Of these two categories your work is technique based?

TS: Mostly yes, I like the art of creating something from beginning to end. From putting life into the image, the technique behind it

MAK: yes

TS: I am not really particular about the subject matter is without any form… for me as an artist technique is what… is more important

MAK: and then the media of your choice? We know that you are a 2D trained artist…

TS: yes

MAK: you did drawing, painting and printmaking ehh of these three techniques which one is your main vehicle for your ideas?

TS: for my ideas? Painting mostly

MAK: painting

TS: painting and drawings

MAK: alright. We’re now moving closer to uhm the main reason of our interview which is your up coming exhibition

TS: yes

MAK: uhm your exhibition in Hatfield. By the way what is the name of the new gallery that we’ve heard a rumor that it has prang up. What is the name of this gallery?

TS: Mellow House Factory

MAK: Mellow House Factory, I saw a photo of it, it looks yellow

TS: Yah its very yellow (laughs)

MAK: you cannot miss it

TS: you cannot miss it!

MAK: Mellow …House …Factory, I almost said Mellow Yellow

TS: (Laughs)

MAK: But in any case… I think it is a great opportunity that we have a space in Hatfield especially in Hatfield which is vibrant and its an area with young people you know if you have a cultural space there you’ll have an alternative thing that the young people can do there


Mama with the kids.Dye on canvas.2016
Seboko, Thato. Mama with the kids, 2016. Hair dye on canvas. Dimensions unavailable

TS: yeh

MAK: but let’s talk a little bit about your exhibition there you say your main art making technique is painting?

TS: Yes

MK: What should the people expect to see when they come to see the exhibition?

TS: With this body of work I use an unconventional material to create the works which is Hair Dye, yah, so it’s a body of work created with Hair Dye

MAK: I saw this somewhere… it’s the title of the exhibition?

TS: Yah the title of the exhibition is called Dye My Memories

MAK: Is there a particular reason why you went with this title Dye My Memories?

TS: ehh seeing that I am using Hair Dye why not use Dye my Memories you can appreciate the pun in it (laughs)

MAK: of course

TS: So that’s why, I wanted the exhibition to be something that takes me out of my comfort zone. Since I am a 2D artist and I am comfortable with paints, oil paints, acrylic paints, water colours, pencils and everything. Those are my comfort zones

MAK: yes

TS: So with this medium itself I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. So before I created the works there was a thinking process to it like what can I do that I haven’t done before? Which medium can I use that I have not used before?

MAK: Yes

TS: I thought it has to be something unconventional. Nothing of traditional medium to create this works

MAK: is it part of the package of the concept of this exhibition? That the vehicle is going to be Hair Dye which is not an art making material

TS: Yes

MAK: did you stumble on it by chance or was it carefully planned or you just arrived at it

TS: Not it was, I stumbled on it, ’cause I remember this one time I was dying my hair

MAK: Oh …you dye your hair? (Laughs)

TS: yes I dye my hair (joins in laughter), I was using it on my hair. I had a discussion with my mom, mom for this one I want to do something special for this one, for this solo exhibition, she’s like what do you think, are you going to paint? I said nah…

MAK: already the exhibition was arranged with the Mellow House Factory ehh you have not discovered this medium. So initially you had another idea that you were gonna present there?

TS: yah

MAK: What was you initial idea when you proposed an exhibition at the new space?

TS: …my idea… was an exhibition of different you know mediums since I am versatile some of those things. But I thought no it would not really work. So yes I could do painting, yes I could do drawings but I needed to do something a little bit special for this one and most people who are exposed to my work they know my technique. So with this work I wanted my technique to be challenged ’cause it’s a very unpredictable medium itself, you don’t know which way it would go. So I wanted a challenge. I did not want to do something that I was already comfortable {with}

MAK: What was your experience in terms of the art making process, application and behavior, its characteristic ehh I am thinking that it dries quickly uhm from what I have experienced previously, what was your experience there with the medium?  

TS: one, yes it dries quickly, two, when you make a mark on a canvas or whatever surface that you use it’s a permanent mark. It’s like working with pen. You cannot erase that mark ehh – three, because I am using it on a different surface it will react a little bit differently and its behavior, one of the characteristics of Hair Dye, is that you are suppose to use it for a certain period of time. When you mix the two liquids together

MAK: the chemicals

TS: the chemicals you apply the Hair Dye on to your hair and you keep it there for like twenty five thirty minutes and then you wash it off. What I have noticed about it is that if you were to mix it and keep it longer than you should it changes colour completely and with this body of work I only used the Black Hair Dye. So keeping it longer than that, sometimes I would leave it for a day, like mix it and leave it for a day and tomorrow it would give me a different colour ehh. By different colour I mean, sometimes it would give me a maroonish colour, sometimes it would give me a very dark brown colour

MAK: almost going towards sepia?    

TS: yes almost towards sepia or it would give me a yellowish greenish tint to it. So I never knew what colour it would change to even though I knew when I applied it to the canvas it reacts with the chemicals on the canvas because canvases are primed

MAK: yes they are primed

TS: so the chemicals will react of course

MAK: with the prime

TS: so that was the most fascinating part about creating the works like its behavior. With paint I know that if I mix this colour on canvas that’s the colour I am gonna have but with Hair Dye I could be working with it know and in two hours it changes colour. It was black now two hours later its maroonish type of colour so I never knew… that was the most exciting part for me.

MAK: Was this an economical decision?

TS: not really ….(laughs) … yes and no, ’cause yes I had to look at expenses of course… ’cause I’m still,… I don’t have stable income I had to look at something that would work for this one

MAK: Yes, but I think it’s a brave move because you are looking at material that was not meant to be used to produce art and you are bringing that material into the Fine Arts parameter you know and as a result ehh you are working within the area. I am not sure to call it post modernity in terms of new media, in terms of the stretching of new ways of creating art works because artists are always looking for a new language of interpreting the world around them but you are a realist, you work realistically

TS: yes

MAK: scale wise?

TS: ehh

MAK: intimate or big?

TS: they vary from small size to bigger sizes

MAK: …and where are you most comfortable in terms of scale?    

TS: I don’t really have a comfort, ’cause, cause with me when I create work I am looking for a challenge. Okay of course smaller sizes are more challenging than big. So yes I am more comfortable with the smaller ones if I were to choose, I am more comfortable there ’cause that’s where I get the challenge more…

MAK: …And you know as we round off our interview lets look at the last few questions that can bring a bit of perspective to the exhibition Dye My Memories what is the aim of this exhibition uhm you know I think we are now looking at around four years since you had your first exhibition and this one will be your first solo exhibition

TS: my first solo exhibition

MAK: what is the aim of this exhibition in terms of your art practice?

TS: uhm I am looking at growth as an artist, if, actually with this exhibition it will be an eye opener. From this solo exhibition I will know if I were to have…when I have the next solo exhibition I will know what to do and what not to do. So it’s for my artistic development, I look at it that way and since I feel I gave this one my all with the other ones it is going to be the same. Its opening more doors basically for this exhibition. It is a starting point

MAK: and, and from my little experience of spaces that existing in Pretoria uhm in a way you are one of the few people to exhibit in that space am I correct?


The Crew. Dye on canvas. 2016
Seboko, Thato. The Crew, 2016. Hair dye on canvas. Dimensions unavailable

TS: Yes

MAK: So uhm it means you are helping the gallery to achieve a new chapter in terms of what it aims to do uhm lets look at one last question here if it wont lead into another question. Uhm is there a concept in this exhibition? People talk about concept this, concept that, concept this concept that. Lets look at the subject matter of your work. we know you work figuratively

TS: Yes

MAK: even during your time with the art museum you worked figuratively, is there a conceptual ground work for the body of work that you have produced for the exhibition? Or is there old favorites which were in your store room which you have brought into this exhibition or is there totally new body of work that will be on show?

TS: Its totally new body of work

MAK: is there an underlying theme, an underlining theme to the work that will be shown?

TS: yes seeing that the exhibition is titled Dye my Memories, memories being to show my journey as me, so the reason why I chose this subject matter I wanted it to be not just about me I want it to be a relatable thing ’cause we all come from somewhere. So it’s a journey from when I was a kid, growing up until now. From where I lived, people who are in my life who are not now in my life now, some have passed away some have not and some of my images from school projects I worked with you know people I came into contact with when I was still in school. All these people make up my memory. So combining the material that I used which is dye and my memory being a separate matter put all in one basket

MAK: you know I can presuppose now that the work that will be on show, in terms of colour, will be either sepia you know as you said earlier on when we were looking at your technique sepia or maroonish

TS: yah

MAK: or even dark as in black which gives it a nostalgic feeling you know if you think about black and white photography, it gives you a nostalgic feeling uhm isn’t the exhibition tinged with nostalgia?

TS: Yes that’s one of the thoughts that crossed my mind when I was doing these works. I thought if I were to make these images in colour it would not have that feeling. So if I bring in black and white colour or the sepia colour it would bring in that feeling

MAK: uhm tell me uhm in terms of the exhibition who has curated the exhibition?

TS: Ehh its Mpho Nkadimeng


TS: Mpho Nkadimeng curated my show

MAK: that’s interesting to know and how may works will be on show for the exhibition?

TS: ehh I have sixteen works on show, yes

MAK: we know the exhibition is opening on the 16 April

TS: Yes

MAK: how long will it run, this exhibition?

TS: It will run for four weeks

MAK: it will run for four weeks! I think it is a great opportunity that the Mellow House Factory has given you to show your work ehh I have also read somewhere that you have spaces that represent you as an artist, Odds and Ends as well as ehh I am not sure is it Renegard? …Art and Frame in Lichtenburg

TS: Yes it’s Renegard

MAK: Renegard Art and Frame in Lichtenburg perhaps maybe this exhibition will boost your profile as an artist as you negotiate pricing as far as these spaces are concerned

TS: are concerned

MAK: for your work

TS: I am looking at you know having my work in more places

MAK: yes

TS: So this exhibition will open doors to have my works exposed in other places, galleries, museums and so on.

Mmutle AK: well ehh Ntate Thato Seboko it has been a pleasure to interview you and to know more about your art making, I mean your up coming exhibition as well as your art making technique – the new medium that you are trying to bring into the art world. I wish you all the best with the plans for the exhibition, successful opening as well as a success in terms of sales following the opening of the exhibition and obviously from here onwards as you say you will have more opportunities coming your way

Thato S: yah

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: I thank you for giving me the chance to interview you

Thato Seboko: no I thank you for having me the opportunity

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: thank you


End of the interview

Thato Seboko and my self shortly after our interview on 12 April 2016
Thato Seboko with me after our interview. Behind us you can make out one of his favorite works ‘Conspiracy’ circa 1998, by Willie Bester which is part of the permanent collection of the Pretoria Art Museum

You have read the interview, now listen to our talk to the interview at SoundCloud


9 May

© mmutle arthur kgokong 2016

This blogpost was updated on 17 September 2021 at 07:13