Artwork honours Tambo

2017-11-01 06:01

A three metre tall painting of Oliver Reginald Tambo is to go on auction in tribute to the struggle hero, who would have turned 100 this year.

The giant painting, a creation of local artist Phillip Tshepo Matlhoko, was painted on a zebra hide.

It took Matlhoko eight weeks to complete the painting, which is signed and sealed at his local studio, the Galeshewe SMME village.

“As an artist with his ear to the ground, I observed many tributes dedicated to O.R. Tambo’s 100 year birthday, so I came up with my own initiative, using my own passion and skills,” says Matlhoko.

While being dwarfed by his creation, which he completed single-handedly, Matlhoko explains that the painting would be removed from the studio soon due to its uniqueness and qualities.

He said the creation reflects one main portrait with many different ones right around it.

Claiming full ownership of the artwork, he clarifies that he was not commissioned by anyone to do the piece.

He admitted to having already started engaging with certain parties to sell the painting to the highest bidder.

“When we talk about O.R. Tambo, we talk about an icon who fought for land, education and freedom. Thus I believe that it will be an honour for the family to own something like this, or the O.R. Tambo Foundation to invest in it.

“It is unique and probably taller than the statue Pres. Jacob Zuma unveiled at the O.R. Tambo International airport on Thursday (19 October).”

Matlhako’s artwork is already gaining recognition on an international level after doing work for many politicians and struggle icons.

He recently also completed a painting for Winnie Mandela on a kudu hide for her birthday.

He was also one of a group of nine young artists who were trained in the art of painting on an animal skin in 2006.

The skills were taught to them by legendary Ethiopian artist Lemma Guya in Addis Ababa.

The training was conducted through the National Heritage Council.

According to him, even though he is now a professional artist, he still continues to consult Guya, whom he still considers his mentor.

Matlhoko also gave recognition to his local mentor Dawson Whitehead, who saw his potential and trained him for sketching and painting at a young age in the Kimberley Art Centre.

“These two men are the reason for my success at this stage. That is why I saw the significance of naming my company after both of them, as Dawson Lemma.”

He explains that art has been running through his veins from a young age.

“My first sketch that drove this passion was of my mother at the age of six.

“It drove me to continue practising at school.”

He laughs at his memories of collecting his classmates’ Biology books to assist them with drawings and sketches at the Homevale High School.

“Little did they know that they were empowering me, as it was not a hobby, but training towards a profession.”

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