Interpreting Tshepo Mosopa – Artist/Poet collaboration

Idioms and proverbs have been in existence amongst our people before the introduction of the writing

Tshepo Mosopa

system as a form of teaching, guidance and knowledge transference. I use Idioms as a basis of my themes and make connection with the modern period that our people find themselves in.

– Tshepo Mosopa

Tshepo Mosopa

MENO MASWEU I

My eyes are dead like the sunken eyes of a skull

I victimized victim to victim

Collecting my keep for it is owed to me

By your flocks – the Mzanzians

You in whom I am disowned

With lack of employ

Bang my gun

I take

Ban my gun you wish

Think you can assert control over my destiny

My deeds

Do you?

Heh?

Forget you not that you raised the monster in me like Kgori said forgot you to give I skill to survive

You preach pedagogy for the selected few

So I shall be friends with you, laugh at you

While I cut you from underneath

And put you in a state of paralysis never experienced ‘afore

While the world watches you in shame

I crime the monster shall discourage visitations unto this land

I keep zapping at your possibility for I not alternative not have

But there is a monster that haunts me

Is this a sign of guilt?

And when son/daughter ask

What daddy does for living

What shall the criminal say?

 

The land of molalatladi has sidelined me;

that is why this goes.

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2009

Tshepo Mosopa

Kgori

I had searched for a livelihood in your bosom

I went from pillar to post (like they say) in search of your sap

Trying to eek a livin’ o Mzanzi whom us all were promised

And now I bow in defeat

Of your Class divisions

Artificial Mzanzi

School went I but drop of nectar of what you ooze I am denied

Hunger contort my body into a suffo’

cat

And survival tactics lack I.

I envy the northern ebony

Who grin in a skill

Who sweat by his own inspired efforts

For your former steering committee molded the present by ignorance Mzanzi

Forging my poverty by forecast and preemption

Entrapping me by denying me skill

So slave I

Are we to blame them or the present power controllers?

let us drop the question mark for no one cares, is there?

But if one out here cares there is a glimmer of hope

If one out there keep us in mind then there is a chance

But all of us careless; Then doom descend

Until then there is no strength to rise from the gutter

That has become the commonplace of the destitute

Acute it is now

For iron shap’n iron

As black downpress black

And Meno Masweu is justified

O the blackgeoisie give us hope in your dominion.

Will you?

Skill us

So that we can bake our own bread

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2009

‘The work of the poet is easy, like a sponge the poet observes. In interrogation s/he oozes personified

mmutle

impressions’

– Mmutle Arthur Kgokong

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Selflessness

What Muhammad Yunus has recently said to South Africans and the world over is of noteworthy. He has said those of us who are in power and wealthy through business endeavors should reinvest some of the wealth that they have made back into the poorer community members of their society, especially to 1women, so that poverty can be eradicated. He has challenged South Africa to eradicate the poverty that is gripping the poor in less than twenty years.

Watching him on a television interview a day after his lecture as the main speaker at the Mandela annual lecture one got a sense that as much as one could blame him to be an idealist he has a point especially if one consider the problems that grips us today from a selfless perspective of giving that is. otherwise one could just move to another channel, but then you will be living in a glass castle.

There was another important point that he made and that is that capitalism does not work henceforth the global economic meltdown that we are experiencing. He highlighted that the rich people did not realise what was happening until they themselves were feeling the hardships of the economic climate. He hinted that there are two aspects to the human condition, the selfish aspect and the selfless aspect.

The selfish aspect is when one works to generate wealth for his or her own material comfort. The selfless aspect, allow me to expand this notion as I go along, is when one works to generate wealth for all, meaning creating businesses that generate income but the investor does not walk away with the profits at the end of the day rather they share the profits with those who constitute the business thus there is an engagement with leveling the fields between those who have and those who don’t have. Significantly such investments should be guided by one acute principle; they should be concentrated on business that will alleviate poverty not condone it!

What an interesting revolutionary thought in our time. Can those in power through commercial endeavors share their proceeds with the needy through reinvestment into other entrepreneurs lacking resources and security to raise capital?

A lot of people are bound to be threatened by this idea which seeks to eradicate poverty simply because they have been taught differently as far as survival is concerned. At the core of the teaching that they have received there is one element missing – humanity. Sharply speaking what they miss is an education about human love, to love other people, to see oneself in the entire human race, to realise that as long as your neighbor sleeps on an empty stomach one’s success is meaningless.

Here what is at issue as far as Yunus’s stance’s successful implementation in our nation is made clear and is that: people’s thinking ought to be changed in order to fight poverty. And since people have shown stubbornness in their nature it took the present global financial crises to demonstrate to them that poverty is a reality. What is a solution? If one has been following this modest commentary on one of our greatest thinkers and doers of our time the solution is that we ought to be a giving people. Yes we ought to start first by acknowledging that we cannot just take and take otherwise chaos will erupt. Global warming is one of the effects of our selfish taking from our home – Earth. As I write it is a cold winter and the Cape has experienced a heavy flood over the weekend.

Is it difficult to see right now that the results of our selfishness are at their beginnings, prancing to consume us all? You can see it when you walk around in town and realise how many people are begging and the hard stares you receive from those who perhaps may assume that you are having it easy.

We are aware of it when we see how our colleagues are never satisfied with what they earn or have. We are mostly aware of it when our children are not satisfied with what their parents can do for them, this is the parents doing of course. When the weather patterns are irregular and our house hold basic needs costs escalate dramatically.

I think we are very privileged to have had such a teaching from one of our global elders especially in a time like the present where greed has gripped the world by its throat and is choking life out of it.

The US first gentleman, Barack Hussein Obama II, has proclaimed that ‘change we can’ and we saw it happen when he became the president of one of the most powerful nation in the world. Let us learn from that strand of thinking as well as we grabble with the gigantic nemesis of all time – human extinction. And of course as South Africans let us learn also from the pinnacle of human actualisation rallied in Elder Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela as far as selflessness is concerned.

1. By saying investment should be focused on women, Muhammed Yunus by no way exclude men, this is based on his years of observation that poverty most of the time affect women in that they are the one’s who struggle with bringing up the children.

13 June

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2009

Tshepo Mosopa’s Seemo Sa Boraro (Third Class)

Seemo sa Boraro
Seemo sa Boraro

One thing that Art cannot separate itself from it’s the experience of its maker. Without experience art cannot be. It cannot spring out of a void and say something, it has to be a part of a particular reality to hold its ground. That anchorage, that experience is emphatically intertwined with the life of the artist. Art is a reportage, it is a reportage of a one point perspective of the artist as he or she goes through life. But unlike less gifted majority of the members of our society the artist is able, through his craft, to beam to the world their unique experiences in pictorial format just as a fiction writer is able to relate their experience through fiction as a metaphor of the real world. Such is the nature of Seemo Sa Boraro 2008. It is a report on the cramped space experienced by public transport users in South Africa. But what is profound about this artwork is that it is not just a vision that the artist as a shaman retrieves from the spiritual dimension or causal realm. The artwork represents the lived-real experience of the artists, Tshepo Mosopa.

Continue reading “Tshepo Mosopa’s Seemo Sa Boraro (Third Class)”

Up-righted and forward Looking

25 May, today has been declared Africa day. What exactly does it mean? What did it mean when it was declared to those who declared it? Without perusal of historical documents pertaining to the declaration of today as Africa Day this day falls off due to lack of significance within our consciousness. It should be taught at school and home what today means. Today it is Samadhi for the African mind.

Today represents the rallying point for the Rastafarian in terms of his/her affinity to African self assertion and unity. At a heightened level it is a divine episode in which what the incarnation of God Almighty, Emperor Haile Selasie I ‘first incient King of iration in October 1963 in the mother land spake of  when he declared war against inhumanity as a primordial tenent of the Organization of African Unity.    The honorable player of instrument and musician OM immortalized the emotionally charged rhetorical words of HIM in the album Rastaman Vibration (1976).

Today is the day when the predecessor of African Unity – Organization of African Unity was founded in 1963. 30 of 32 independent states of Africa signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia uniting Africans to stand together towards common destiny – freedom for all African states from colonial domination and steps towards self resilience were envisaged. Those conversant with historical periods should be conscious of the 60s as a great awakening of self rights and awareness for humanity – precursor period for the many rights we enjoy today.

I hereby see it fit to reprise one of my earlier thoughts expressed in my writings concerning the problems of separation that Africans are experiencing. What will follow is actually my response to the Xenophobic attacks that took place in South Africa. Many, my self included, feel that not much has taken place to remedy the situation in order to avoid another inhuman uprising against humanity that we have experienced last year May.

Today is a day that will go unnoticed to those who have no passion for the development of this continent in its destiny to reach the pinnacle of human existence – freedom. Perhaps some people will not be reached by the full blaze of today due to illiteracy.

The freedom that Africa cries for today is that of economics, it cannot reach self resilience without achieving the latter. For this it needs African leaders who take the aspirations of their country men and woman to heart. Africa can do away with those leaders in whom it put trust but they prove themselves to be totalitarian and absolute dictators, selfish and murderous as far as deprivation to their own countries is concerned.

Africa must have an education system that will through and through acknowledge the past, be conscious of the present and forge in the mind of learners problem solving skills that will help them be assets to the continent. This tripartite attitude will make us conscious of who we are and what challenges we find our self battling with and forthright it will encourages a proactive approach to solving modern problems facing the continent such as food shortages, infectious disease new job creation to boost Africa’s varied economic systems.  But all this must be preceded by one fundamental entity which is of paramount importance towards asserting Africa’s position in modern world history. This is the love for one self, the love for another African and the love for the continent and its advancement; and A yearn for unity.

I shall not dwell on the qualifications of being an African. However I shall say a few remarks concerning that equation – in celebrating today.

That in post-modern society where people are spread out across the continent, Where people stay in one place briefly and move on, where there are people of other ethnicity who have been born and brought up and up-righted in this our beloved continent, that the acknowledgement of Africa’s past and presence and delving into problem solving for the sake of Africa is a positive step towards acknowledging mankind’s common origins – Africa. That it makes no sense for a black man or woman to deny people of other pigmentation their affinity to Africa based on their appearance whereas they acknowledge the history and cultures of Africa and are making contributions towards its positive developemt whereas they themselves who look the part are negative and suicidal towards the positive developments of Africa. Those who find the definition of being labelled African charming and are negative towards Africa let them stand aside from the aisle for they are hypocrites and are floating and undecided as to who or to what they are affiliated.

On the question of being black as a definition of African, A time will come when even a European will think twice in defining himself or herself based on colour because of hybridisation and immigration that would have taken place. In developed nations a new people is emerging. The cosmopolitan, the globalized person who is neither of here nor of there – this is the future, its sure symptom is the disappearance of certain languages and cultures.

As Africa is swiftly being affected by this pandemic of uprootedness (through forced immigration or self imposed exile due to lack of opportunities in one’s own country and warfare disruptions) and is still battling with its  economic development and survival following its independence, let the African who claim to be African  (despite skin pigmentation) acknowledge what its means to be African. They should contribute through work either in their communities or professionally towards the uprighting and development of mankind’s original homeland. This is out most Intelligence! Rastafari, Selah.

25 May 2009

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong

5 Minutes with an Artist: Tshepo Mosopa

Tshepo Mosopa
Tshepo Mosopa

Tshepo Mosopa is a contemporary artist based in Tshwane-Pretoria whose work has been shown in exhibitions such as The New Signatures Art Competition 2007, The Rehearsal Exhibition 2008 and For Sale Project Exhibition 2008.  He is currently part of the final  selection exhibition for the ABSA L’Atelier Art Award 2009. Mosopa is a member of the Creative Industries Consortium Tshwane and at the time of writing he is attending training in printmaking at the Artists Proof Studio in Newtown Johannesburg.

Continue reading “5 Minutes with an Artist: Tshepo Mosopa”

X- Men Origins: Wolverine

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What one must understand when it comes to a super hero like Super Man is that he is a super hero by birth! He is an alien, from krypton, he has traveled galaxies to get to our world and his existence is linked with the protection of humanity. His being an Alien outstrips him of human weakness already and endows him with mystery and possibilities of the unknown.

When one actually contrast Super Man with another super hero, say Spider Man for instance and you look at their gestation you realize that he/Super Man defies a case in point of an experimental went wrong which affects someone by modifying their genetic composition to the elevation supernatural power – the accident turned hero.

He is a hero par excellence but that does not make Spidey a degraded hero by no measure. Those grown on Super Hero fables know that most of the time the poor heroes finds it hard to fit in with the normal society due to their unpredictable tremendous powers and that they lead a double life. Interestingly enough DC Super Man Clark Kent is an alter ego of Super Man. In alter ego mode he must act powerless, he must portray weakness and suppress bravery and boldness but underneath that false portrayal there lurks a force that can shake the world to its foundation. In his weak state portrayal he is self control personified. Doesn’t Peter Parker signify the latter?

Spider Man on the other hand, to enter into existence, has to be stung by a genetically modified Super Spider in order to reach the state of a force to be reckoned with. He must evolve from being human to superhuman. In this sense then Super Man must do the reverse to fit in. Spider Man must learn to contain the powers at an advanced stage of his life whereas Super Man grows with the super force and learns early to manipulate and transmutate his energies and use them without causing harm to others and himself – especially the innocent.

The Super Man phenomenon is the situation within which Wolverine comes into being although he is still much an earthling. In the new motion picture which is a prequel to the X Men trilogy Gavin Hood takes us back to those defining moments of Wolverine as a child, the sprouting of his talons, his mother’s (thus loss of maternal element) and his fleeing from home with his half brother Sabretooth who promises to take care of him no matter what. Then Hood string us along in a tour de force play of time as the two boys grow up through decades of war and survival into men, immortal warriors; they go through the American war as well the two World Wars.

The discerning viewer familiar with Hood’S Tsotsi will be pick up similarities between Tsotsi and Wolverine in the scene where the boys run away from home after the pre-adolescent enraged Wolverine kills his father.

You will remember that in Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Athol Fugard’s Tsotsi there is a scene where the main protagonist, Tsotsi, in a nightclub is confronted by one of his gang members, called the Teacher/Boston, asking him why he loved violence and as he pressed on in addition with a supposition as to the latter’s violent behavior Tsotsi loses it and punch him repeatedly into a pulp. Perplexed by his doing and with all the clubbers looking at him Tsotsi runs away into the night and as he runs flashbacks of the time he ran away from home as a pre-adolescent are played out giving us an interplay between the younger Tsotsi and the older Tsotsi. At that point the viewer is able to appreciate the nature of the trouble man and later the narrative with furnish the viewer with more data as to the isolation of the protagonist and perhaps from then onwards the viewer will then be led to understand why he relishes in violence.

The intense emotional appeal that we experience with Tsotsi as he runs away from the club is also encountered in Wolverine as the boys ran away.

But in its full explosion the mastery of Gavin Hood’s story telling through motion picture narration here leaps forward in refinement in terms of the artistic heightening experience which touches one at the core of the heart. What am I talking about?

Firstly we see the boys seared from their mother as she accuses Wolverine of the murder of the father (with whom we deduce right away she had had an affair with while married), who has actually murdered the father that Logan/Wolverine thought was his. But then as his talon/blades (still in their keratin state) protrude the mother gives the boy a hateful look and right there and then a stage of isolation is set for Wolverine the Super Hero. He has transcended weakness through anger and by so doing unleashed a force that lay buried within him ever since birth. We must remember what Prof. Xavier says in the first installment of the trilogy: that moments of high tension reveals the super powerful force that mutants posses. This force may lie dormant until a sudden appearance given the necessary environment, which is usually retaliation.

But going back to Hood and the moment of the boys’ departure and fleeing from home. When the loose canon Sabretooth consoles Wolverine that he will stick with him no matter what because they are brothers – right there and then hope flushes in and it is this scene which sets Hood apart by numerous leaps from what he has achieved with Tsotsi in that scene where the hoodlum’ isolation from the norm is fore grounded – I am talking about his ability to capture our emotions…in the matter at hand only this time he achieves the same feet and more by using modern mythological characters – Super Heroes.

In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens achieves the same feat of rallying our emotions to sympathize with Oliver Twist when he escapes from the orphanage. We experience an almost similar heightened effect at that juncture where the poor boy tells one of his friends at the orphanage, who catches the sight of him fleeing, that he is running away from that horrible place to find happiness (fame and fortune). We immediately fall in love with his character and he simultaneously evolves into a round character – he is backboned. Such is the effect here with the boys as they flee. They evolve beyond just being mere younger selves of the mutant brothers into higher possibilities and that is what will compel us to sit throughout the entire motion picture narrative.

If my readers are not able to connect with what I am fussing about here I offer only one solution – One will have to see Tsotsi and then X-Men Origins: Wolverine to experience the heightened emotional tension that I am preoccupied with, even going as far as reading Oliver Twist for that matter or Athol fugard’s Tsotsi.

Wolverine is violent by nature when provoked and this is the Superhero phenomenon that he has to suppress in order to fit in the normal society. All the more Wolverine signifies humanities yearn for immortality. He is a prediction of future societies whose genes would have been modified to withstand cuts and acute injuries through nano technology that will accelerate healing.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine the Prequel to X-Men trilogy serves to show cases how he acquired his adamantine skeletal system and it also explains his loss of memory. These are provided as gaps at the outset of X-Men () To fill the gaps one will have to see the motion picture itself and delight in Gavin Hood’s craftsmanship.

20 May 2009

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong

Mbongeni R. Buthelezi – Blowing life into plastic

“For me making art is like having an appointment with creativity itself, I am well aware that should I stop working I will never move closer to the objective of art making which through commitment inevitably results in excellence”

– Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi

*In the winter of 1999 I had the pleasure of meeting the late Ntate Durant Sihlali(1935 – 2004) at the Pretoria Art Museum. I remember vividly that it was on a Sunday and the art museum had the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition subtitled: Scientist, Inventor and Artist on show.

What was profound about that day was that  it was the first time I met Durant Sihlali in person and it happened that on the morning of that day prior to leaving my home in Atteridgeville to attend to my duty as a guide at the art museum, I happened; as I always did those days, to view the regular arts and culture programme that was being aired in the early Sunday mornings by the SABC and it was, I tend to think, by divine coincidence they were showing a documentary on Ntate Durant Sihlali. I remember that he was shown pouring paint on hand made paper. Ntate Durant had played a major role in documenting what was going on during the forced removals of the sixties and seventies in the townships of the Reef.

There I was on that Sunday beholding his rather stocky frame perusing Leornado’s anatomical facsimiles in Preiss Hall – one of the Art Museum’s gallery. It was five to six hours later after watching the pre-recorded interview of his. I chanced a greeting and I was delighted when he gave me a friendly reply punctuated by a slow and humbled voice. Such is the delight when an aspiring artist meets an established artists, polarity is established instantly. However my knowledge of Durant Sihlali is rather limited to books for I had only that one brief privilege encounter with him. His contributions to South African art started to flood my mind as time went by for I began to grasp the nature of black South African artists contribution to South African art later in my life.

Warren Siebrits Modern Contemporary Art Gallery has mounted a tribute exhibition to him during April this year. However what sharply stands out about Durant when one surveys his oeuvre is his handling of water paint and evolution towards the abstract form.

Today this heritage, this ability to delve into the non figurative universe can be discerned in one of Durant Sihlali’s pupils at Funda Centre, Mbongeni Buthelezi, who quite recently I have had the pleasure of meeting at his studio at the Seippel Art Gallery in downtown Johannesburg about ten minutes, through Jozi traffic from the Fordsburg Studios.

The studio is pervaded by the burning musk of plastic as he crouches in front of a black and white plastic painting which forms a series, they all burst with white slashes and splashes as if a stone has been thrown into a black solution whose depths are pregnant with a white colour and this colour; when disturbed explodes into various facial expressions and form. Our business in Johannesburg on 31 August 2007 was to introduce Nthabiseng Montshiwa to Ntate Koloane at the Fordsburg Studio. Because of elapsed time due to a burst tire we had to pass by the Seippel Gallery earlier than anticipated for our friend and colleague in the arts the curator of the gallery Mxolisi Xaba had a prearranged call that he was expecting from Europe and had to avail himself at the prescribed time.

Mbobengi welcomed us warmly, until then I had spoken to him on a couple of occasions on the phone last year at about this very time and had met him briefly in March of this year through Mxolisi Xaba. We found him squatting in the large expanse that constitute his studio. There was of course another person in the studio cutting panels on his behalf. By the end of our meeting I will surmise that it must have been his assistant. The piece that he was currently working on was a part of a six series, having rested the gun-like machine he uses to melt his media; for that is exactly what he does – he paints with molten plastic. We shake hands with him. He crosses over to switch off the music playing from a ghetto blaster atop a sofa strewn with sketch diary and some few magazines. The series of black and white plastic paintings he is working on rest against a wall and there is a supply of salvaged used plastic bags, visible one could already pick out coca-cola six pack plastic wrapper, six pack beer wrapper

‘so you are hard at work man’ says I after we have settled. We are not really seated, the images that surround us are overwhelming, it is actually Nthabiseng who is seating.

‘yes man I am hard at work, you know this is what I enjoy, and with the opening of my solo exhibition coming closer there is no time to waste’ says Mbongeni.

‘Tell me, how did you arrive at this point where you are using plastic’ I ask giving in into the alluring question because when one looks at the work it has a thick impasto of oil painting.

‘Lack of materials was a motivating factor, I do not think if I was a privilege artist who had accessibility to traditional art making materials such as oil paints I would not have discovered the art of plastic painting. I was initiated, groomed and trained through the art of watercolour paints.’

‘When I look at some of the pieces resting on the wall I cannot help but see the quality of water colour painting in them, now I understand that you were trained as a watercolorist; this watercolour quality reminds me of the art of Durant Sihlali.’ I observed.

‘Yes indeed, I was trained by him at FUNDA in the eighties when I use to attend art classes after school and later on when I took art seriously in the late eighties; Durant was a very disciplined and strict artist. I remember I once wanted to reject this medium for the simple drawing technique however Bra Durant enforced the media on us. At the time we had to do some plain air water colour painting so I remember I spent some time painting the old hostels in springs. After prolonged periods of practicing with the media I became better and secured in its use, but as I say I would later find it difficult to afford this medium and that is when I discovered the use of discarded plastic and it was not long when I experimented with molten plastic as a painting media.’ He explains at length.

‘Were there any highlights at point in your career?’ I ask

‘Yes when Nhlanhla Xaba won the standard bank young artist award in 1998 I was invited as an exhibiting guest artist. And my work was exhibited along side his. It was a great exposure for me, I could see then that I was going places with my art.’ He maintains.

‘What do you think of Kay Hassan’s work.

‘Well it is wonderful man, using discarded material always presents an opportunity to re-cycle, to give new life to material. Kay uses discarded Billboard paper – he gives new life to it, I forage for discarded plastic bags – I give them a new use, a new form, a new life.’ He affirms.

What one realises when one surveys the artist’s studio, is that the space is in par with what Mbongeni has just remarked. He does indeed recast a new life into plastic…and this is the ideal of the artist’s relation to new media – to breathe new life into it.

Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi’s plastic paintings are on show at the Pretoria Art Museum from 13 May – 16 August 2009.

*this  piece was written in mid 2008 prior to the opening of the exhibition officially in  May 2009.

© 2009 Mmutle Arthur Kgokong