Turning Heads with Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Kgomotso Neto Tleane is a self-taught photographer who is no stranger to the unconventional. He has just had his artwork showcased at the Bree Taxi Rank in the Johannesburg CBD.

He effortlessly tells black people’s stories truthfully and without pretense. And his Turning Heads visual series is no exception.

This is captured beautifully in an article on the website Behance about Neto’s work: “Looking at a photograph is about listening and then looking.

“One has to listen to what the photograph wants to say before imposing anything on it. It is about how the ear catches the whispers and shouting that escape beyond the edges of the frame. It is about staring at what is there, what is not there, what could be there, what needs to be there. Neto does not hide what he feels, his photographs are his heart, a heart painted in light.”

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His upcoming exhibition is inspired by the relationship that black people have with their hair. “The project is based on how we groom ourselves as black people. It’s the smell of methylated spirits in salons in the township or waiting in a queue to get your hair braided,” he says.

Neto explains that the visual series is not traditional gallery work and, as such, partnering with the Untitled Basement at the Artivist in Braamfontein felt like the perfect place to host the series. “The owner of the Artivist approached me and he loved the work so it made sense to exhibit it there.

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“I would like the work to be seen physically and for people to purchase it,” he adds.

The photographer says his main aim is to make the artwork as affordable and accessible as possible. And this influences how he prices his artwork.

“I don’t belong to any gallery. I’ve always gone about doing things alone. My main challenge has been balancing personal work and commercial work while trying to earn a living,” he says.

“When pricing the artwork I try to make it affordable by also considering factors such as how long the work took and what went into it.

“Affordability is obviously subjective but I’ve tried to make it as affordable as possible.”

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Neto says he is looking forward to similar upcoming projects that will speak to the unconventional ways that he displays his art.

“I’m working with two curators who call themselves Middle Centre. The Bree Taxi Rank exhibition was the second phase of our partnership.

“The third phase will be coming soon, perhaps sometime early next year. I’m also planning a documentary and other projects.”

The exhibition Turning Heads opens on November 28 at the Artivist in Braamfontein.

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