Malebogo’s creative exploration can be traced back in 2022 when she was recognised as the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto winner

Malebogo Molokoane Unveils a Transformative Tapestry in Glass at Absa Gallery

Absa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), in collaboration with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), opened its doors for a solo exhibition featuring Tshwane University of Technology alumni, part-time lecturer and artist, Malebogo Molokoane.

She was crowned as the distinguished recipient of the 2022 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award. Malebogo’s innovative exhibition embodies a fusion of artistic brilliance and intercultural synergy, shining a spotlight on the vibrant art scene in South Africa.

In her captivating body of work entitled A Re Tshamekeng (“let’s play” in Setswana), Malebogo explores the intricacies of emotional gestures and facial expressions through layered glass artworks.

The fragility of glass in her art reflects the delicate balance of her journey, emphasising the power of human expressions. The work highlights moments of tension, misery, excitement, confusion and trauma in her life journey. The artworks vividly depict the events that occurred before and after these crucial moments, and ultimately becoming a game-changer.

Malebogo’s work also creates memorable, fun board and indigenous games using a variety of glass techniques, such as blowing, kiln burning, kiln casting, beading and sand casting.

The results are mind-blowing layered glass artworks, blending mapped journeys and fused portraits, and serving both expressive and discoverable game boards. These creations embody the essence A Re Tshamekeng, in reference to this ready-for-use arts produce.

Malebogo’s creative exploration can be traced back in 2022 when she was recognised as the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto winner and followed by a visit to Paris for a 3-month artistic residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts – an opportunity for greater exposure and learnings. She also sojourned an enriching experience at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington, USA in 2023.

Today marks the first leg of her official tour across her home country, South Africa. Malebogo exhibition will tour across South Africa providing a lifetime opportunity for art enthusiasts to experience a one-of-a-kind art form.

This journey has not been easy for Malebogo. It came with challenges as she was the only glass artist amongst her peers during her residency in Paris– instilling doubt in her capabilities. But this would not discourage Malebogo, who expresses herself as a ‘sedulous go-getter’ which has culminated in her first solo exhibition.

Malebogo sees her art as a function of symbolism, capturing the essence of shared experiences, building connections, and encouraging viewers to admire the intricate texture of human emotions and sentiments:

“Glass art is a process and a bundle of emotions from studio to display. It is also a fragile process, mirroring the delicate nature of human emotions. Each time I engage with glass, it becomes a different form of self-expression. I can experiment with it in various ways, even when it cuts through me – yes, there’s pain but also fulfilment. The comparison between the fragility of glass and life is essentially the same, with moments of added frustration both in daily challenges and the delicate process of working with glass.”

“We’re extremely proud to support unique artists such as Malebogo. Her work challenges our perceptions of glass, revealing its surprising strength and beauty. In each piece, there’s a story waiting to be discovered, a puzzle of emotions and experiences that she invites us to explore. As the French Institute of South Africa, we are delighted to be part of this journey,”

says Sophie Boulé, Cultural Attaché and Deputy Director of IFAS.

South Africa boasts a rich and diverse artistic heritage, with a growing contemporary art scene that reflects the country’s cultural energy. Absa recognised the importance of art as a driver for social change, providing a platform for artists like Malebogo to amplify their voices, challenge perceptions, and contribute to the cultural tapestry of the nation.

“Art has the power to connect people, and Malebogo Molokoane’s creations do just that. Her journey, as reflected in A Re Tshamekeng, is not just a personal one; it resonates with everyone who engages with her art. Her work challenges us to rethink how we perceive art and encourages us to embrace the unexpected. Absa is proud to support artists like Malebogo, who bring fresh perspectives and push the boundaries of creativity,”

adds Dr. Paul Bayliss, Absa Senior Specialist: Art and Museum Curator.

The Gerard Sekoto Award, presented by Absa, is a prestigious recognition in the art world, named after the iconic South African artist Gerard Sekoto.

This award serves as a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work on an international stage. It is a testament to Absa’s commitment to supporting and nurturing artistic talent, fostering cultural exchange, and celebrating the diversity of expression within the South African art community.

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