The aim of this essay is to trace the development of the career of Tshepo DD Maponyane based on an extensive interview that I conducted with him in 2011 shortly after his return from Bali. Already at that time plans were underway to mount an exhibition of his work at the Pretoria Art Museum to afford his home town to his oeuvre in one space. It is my hope that the reader will come to realise the conditions within which this artist has emerged. The critical assessment of the work of the artist is not part of the current essay but will form part of a separate essay entitled ‘Self Introspection – A critical assessment’ therein his visual art output selected for his solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum will be discussed.
However if I may be allowed the privilege to give a general commentary on creativity itself I would like to offer that the artist, the creative person whatever the vocation of creativity that they are grappling with, for them concentration is everything. For in their pursuit to reach the original artwork the artist must work hard ceaselessly. Then I believe that they will reach a state wherein there is a ceaseless stream of consciousness towards creative art production. It is in that state that the artist will produce remarkable work that can claim a place in visual art history. In the future students of the arts will come across their names and work. And this is the highest ideal that art energy should try and attain through the life of the artist. The artist can channel it only without compromising hard work.
Now as I jot this article that artwork has evolved from being an aggravating work praised as brave and avant-garde to a vandalized artwork following two men who entered the gallery, apparently total strangers to each other, and took turns defacing the painting. While the white man crossed both the face and the genitalia with red paint the black man smeared black paint both on the face, part of the right side of the figure and the genitalia area. While the black man who vandalized the artwork after the white man was the first to be arrested the white man almost fled the gallery uncaught if it weren’t for the press that pointed out he should be also be arrested. I shall stop here with this description of the work and the incident surrounding its defacing lest I lose sight of what I am concerned with here. But I wish to venture that the artwork now has attained a state of a performance piece with the added actions of the two men. Though defaced, it has not lost its gravity as offensive and vulgar. It has now being relegated to a pseudo avant-garde by bourgeois standards but far from kitsch considering its genesis and the new meaning it is pregnant with.
Let us acknowledge that once the artwork goes public and holds its attention the artist is grabbling with external stimuli however the mode within which the artist is grappling with the issues concern shifts and heightens from personal to public. When the ground on which he operates shifts and heightens unfortunately for him He is no longer a private person entitled to their personal views, he speaks to the people for the people. The artist is no longer on a personal journey but he has harnessed the interests of the people. Positively he will be seen as endorsing the interests of those whose values he upholds and negatively he has taken a confrontational stance towards those who are opposed to the ideals reflected in his work. By hook or crook he now represents the ideals of a particular group of the society within which his practicing exists. He is positioned.