Tsholo "Splash" Motong
Proud and Beautiful
Proud and Beautiful
Tsholo Motong lives in Soweto township, Johannesburg, South Africa. Soweto is home to more than 1.3 million black South Africans speaking Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho, Setswana, Tshivenda, and many other local languages.
Short for South Western Townships, Soweto was created in the 1930s as temporary housing for black laborers who worked in the gold mines and other industries in the city of Johannesburg. The white-minority led government forced black people to relocate to Soweto during apartheid away from the city center.
In the 1970s, Soweto became the epicenter of the struggle against the South African white-minority apartheid. It is also the only place in the world with two Nobel Prize winners, human rights activists Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Soweto has always influenced the country through politics, sports, music, and culture. Local scenes from Soweto inspire Tsholo's work.
Tsholo "Splash" Motong extensively uses traditional African fabric in his artwork.
Shweshwe fabric is a printed, dyed cotton fabric widely used in Lesotho and South Africa. Originally dyed indigo, the fabric is now manufactured in a variety of colors with intricate geometric patterns.
Shweshwe fabric has a fascinating history. In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipped goods from East Asia to Europe through South Africa. Dutch settlers in South Africa purchased the famed naturally dyed indigo fabric made in India and Bengal.
In the 1840s, French missionaries gifted the Basotho Chief, King Moshoeshoe I indigo-printed cloth. Extremely pleased, the King endorsed the fabric, and it spread in popularity throughout the Sotho and Zulu inhabitants. The name ‘shweshwe’ derives from its royal influencer, King Moshoeshoe.
In addition to Shweshwe, Splash uses fabric from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Ghana:
"I do use different fabrics from different cultures, countries, and tribes to tell a single story that resonates with all the cultures."
West African Kente fabric is a Ghanaian textile made of handwoven cloth, strips of silk, and cotton. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means "basket" in the Asante dialect of the Akan language, referencing its basket-like pattern.
As one of the prominent African arts and culture symbols, Kente cloth has been embraced by the broader African diaspora. Kente cloth is particularly popular in the United States among African Americans and can be found on all types of clothing, accessories, and objects.
For his artwork, Splash collects fabric from different tribes and cultures in Africa. He then cuts them out in a unique mosaic fashion and glues them to canvas. Each portrait is created from hundreds of oddly shaped pieces of patterned fabric.
Artworks in our exhibit
IDLOZI LOMNDAU KA MNGUNI
Umguni ka Mndau waBalozi no Mdiki, when early European missionaries first landed in Cape colony in the 1700s, Christianity was the first tool used to colonise the natives without warfare.
When the Witchcraft Suppression Act was passed by the NP apartheid regime in 1957, it prohibited Izangoma, Traditional doctors & Spiritual Healers alike. It accused voodoo & witchcraft, it was a crime to practice ubungoma so Bantu people stopped practicing & adopted a new Christian religion introduced by the missionaries. They changed their names into Biblical, stopped wearing animal skins, beadwork, body scarification, as way of being accepted in missionary schools, workplaces & churches.
Certain colours, patterns, plants & animals are a form of reincarnation carrying spirits of ancestry lineage, thokoza ingwe yamabala okhehla no 'gogo.
Completely she's exhausted,
manipulated & disoriented
a government reliant product
of socio economic policies
beyond her dreams,
tears of sorrow flow in streams
as no one responds
her silence remains
in scary screams.
The DabulaManzi water crosser is part of the African spirituality doctors, the belief on ancestors.
This series is about African spirituality. The old word used to be "witch doctors" but now it's sangoma. Some call it voodoo but it's more like ancient African spirituality before Christianity was introduced to Africa.
sangoma, highly respected healer among the Zulu people of South Africa who diagnoses, prescribes, and often performs the rituals to heal a person physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
The jazz series is a tribute to Sophia town kofifi jazz era of the 1950s in apartheid era.
Sophia town was unique. You had all races living together which the segregation government did not like.
It was demolished in 1955 and black people were moved to the ghetto of Soweto. It's a tribute to the birth of south African jazz, the kofifi pioneers.
Take a listen to Tsholo's favorite Kofifi Jazz musicians of that era:
Johannesburg and Soweto
Yet, Tsholo always remains very true to his home.
His love and appreciation for the people of Soweto is so evident in his work. His paintings exude so much warmth, subtle humor and empathy.
Election time is near. Politicians will be canvassing in dirty, sewer infested streets of ghetto camps.
The ruling party has made poverty it's meal ticket, using relief grants, food parcels to bait the clueless voting fodder.
Rampant HIV infested teenage pregnancy, cheap drug abuse, casual to normal petty hardcore crimes range from electricity theft but robbery, rape & murder are daily activities. Faster than hijacking & bolder than cash heist, it's the urban ghetto jungle where every man for himself.
Poverty for us all.
BA MKHOZI BA JOZI
Ba mkhozi ba Jozi - entrepreneurs of Joburg.
Street vendors are the backbone of our economy.
They don't wait for education, funding or fancy offices.
They just get the basics right and engage. Enterprises which uphold out families, often with babies on the back...
Mother and Child
My work is only inspired by local scenes from from Soweto, South Africa, which has a rich history of migrant labour. I use a lot of colour because I believe colour is like a spice of life.
Mother & child is executed in a grotesque semi-realism aesthetics with hints of abstraction
Jozi my pozi with views that are cozy,
from the leafy northern suburbs purple haze hues never disturb,
memories of lavender plantations persist, lilac littered leaves resemble flowers,
it never rains but pours purple showers,
avenue after boulevard the hard tarmac is polluted
by a specific soft bloom which always require the broom,
Jacaranda my city from Tshwane to Jozi
u make summer special...