| Lebohang Motaung|
"And yet I smile" (2020)
"And yet I smile"
Acrylic painting on paper
100 x 70 cm
100 x 70 cm
TLC Extension Collection (May 2020, South Africa)
Overview: A large portrait of a smiling girl, in a black and white striped tank top, her hair tied back in several places with white bows. Wisps of hair extend outwards from the topnotes, almsot as if they are flying off. Around her smile is painted the outline in white of a protective face mask, allowing us still to see her entire face, including her smiling mouth.
Artist's Statement: This pandemic has affected us all negatively, we found ourselves having to reimagine our livelihood. With all the hardships and new challenges this pandemic brings, we continue to display resilience and a will to survive. There was a time when I used a mask to cover my sad face, but now I’m hopeful and I can gladly say, behind that mask is a smile because I know things will get better.
In my work I used an outline of the mask instead of it covering the mouth, Because I did not want to hide the smile. Even though I wear a mask, underneath that mask I still smile because I know this too shall pass.
Mark Auslander: Pam emphasizes the wonderful imagery of hair in this painting; I find myself struck by Lebohang Motaung's evocation of the rich Basotho cultural aesthetics of the face, anchored in the female initiation process. Basotho female initiates at times cover their faces with woven reed masks, signifying their rebirth and intimate connection with the watery, reed-covered space of Creation (Riep 2011). Young women emerging from initiation may adorn their faces and bodies with painted substances, known as letsoku, manifesting their transitional status as they move towards adulthood (Klopper & Nel 2002). White clays covering the face and body are at times associated with values of purity and rebirth, and the blessings of ancestral shades. The face, the outward expression of individual distinction and difference, thus becomes the appropriate medium through which the emerging young person is integrated into the continuity of the collective--which spans the interwoven community of the Living and the Dead.
Later during the life cycle, adult Basotho women engage in house painting, at times incorporating white clay pigments and imagery signaled in initiation, related to their roles as guardians of the domestic realm and bringers of life. In other African rural communities, white lines and dots are used to beautify the face and signal new stages in social development and openness to the community.
Klopper, Sandra and Karel Nel. The Art of Southeast Africa from the Conru Collection. Milan: 5 Continents Editions srl., 2002.
Riep, David. 2011. House of the Crocodile: south Sotho art and history in southern Africa. University of Iowa (Dissertation)
For more information:
#TLCExtensionCollection #ArtForGood #TheLockdownCollection