Wild Brush, an exhibition by Wilson Ngoni kicks off in Maun on Wednesday in what promises to be a thrilling experience judging by the excitement already created around it.
Masterpieces posted on social media by the skillful painter have attracted a lot of attention from across the world with multitudes already enquiring about the price tag on the artworks. On Tuesday he told The Patriot on Sunday that he cannot take the overwhelming enquiries which saw friend requests on his facebook page shoot through the roof. One of the most oustanding paintings is SPOT, from the first sighting when he arrived in Maun recently. "A lot of young men were riding donkeys in the village. Those in the painting were among the first I spotted when I arrived here and as you can see they also noticed me, hence the name SPOT. To produce such paintings I work by making sketches on the field, taking pictures, and on recollection from memory," he said.
But can locals afford the price tag on the paintings? His response is an evasive lenghty explanation. Ngoni says because he owes allegiance to Botswana and would like to promote appreciation of art among the locals and also to draw the attention of the international community to the country using art as some form of economic diversification he does not have fixed prices for his paintings. He then goes on and on about how guys like Picasso used art to promote their countries and put cities like Paris on the international map. And yes he admits that some of the prices could be out of reach for many locals. Instead he would rather negotiate a special price for locals and a different price-obviously steeper, for international clients."I need money but I owe my allegance to this country and my people," he says.
As in many other sectors of the economy he decries lack of appreciation and support from some government officials who have the mandate to facilitate development and growth of the arts in this country. For example he says it is common to find officers in these departments who know nothing about an artist called Wilson Ngoni yet a foreigner will tell you everything about his artworks and the Maun exhibition. The self taught artist-without any accreditation from any reputable institution-who quit school to pursue art, covers some of these experiences in a recently published book called Doors to My Eyes. Ngoni will exhibit 30 paintings at the Maun exhibition themed Wild Brush which starts on Wednesday at Nhabe museum. "I am now working on the 26th piece. The remaining four paintings are also on course," he said.
In preparation for the exhibition Ngoni has taken residence in a secluded spot at a homestead in Sedie ward. He said already the place is getting packed with curious crowds from all walks of life coming to watch him busy at work. He boys and girls and all types of wanna be artists are thronging the place demanding that he teach them to paint. He said to do this he will collaborate with the museum and Okavango Artists Association to facilitate workshops for emerging and aspiring artists. "We have talented kids in Botswana but they dont know where to go. Schools should teach students not only to pass exams or to become art teachers. Out of school youth are worse off," he said.
Ngoni said through a book he recently published, Doors to My Eyes, he captures the story of an artist and the challenges they face and what he would expect tobe done to assist them. He said the book is about his life in genereal and how he became an artist early in life abandoning formal education despite that he was gifted in academics. The self taught artist says contrary to popular believe he has no accreditation from reputable institutions, does not enjoy any form of support from any and or no sponsorship.