Whenever Rasta, real name Lebani Sirenje, paints he automatically trends on social media.
The 42-year-old’s artistic palate is always in question and he has no intention of changing his passion to suit people.
He is constantly accused of not getting it right when he paints but these opinions are not about to make him lose focus.
Most recently, he painted the late Black Mambazo’s Joseph Shabalala, who was laid to rest in KwaZulu-Natal last Saturday. And now he plans to sell it for a hefty price.
“Depending on who buys it, the painting can even be R150 000 or even more than R150 000,” he tells Move!.
For this painting, Rasta was once again roasted on social media, particularly on Twitter with users pointing out that the legendary singer had a gap between his teeth, which is a feature that could not been missed.
“I think I will just continue doing what I love and not listen to what people say.” People on social media have said all sorts of things about Rasta but he chooses not to even pay attention to detractors. “There are those who have said I should draw myself and others say they will cut off my hands. What is that?” he says.
What matters and keeps him going is the passion he has for what he does and the love he gets from people. “After I finish painting, I go to the bereaved family and present the painting to them. I am guaranteed to get smiles from people who appreciate my art.
They might leave their loved one at the graveyard, but they take a special painting of them back home with them,” he adds. According to Rasta, artists embrace him and thank him for what he is doing for the art industry. “I have got that impact. At the end they will see what I was pushing all this time,” Rasta says.
He doesn’t sell images he paints at funerals or memorials however, while in KwaZulu-Natal, he spoke to Black Mambazo’s manager about the possibility of putting a price on the special painting which could potentially do well in an auction and help towards plans to start a solid academy in honour of the fallen hero whose influence was of international standards.
The Zimbabwean born artist came to South Africa in 1996 and says since impressing his classmates with Mzansi jewel Mandela’s painting, he never looked back. “I was in form one (grade eight) when I drew Mandela. I had seen him a little on TV, but I did not have a picture of him with me when I drew but when my classmates saw the painting, they knew who it was and were so impressed by my talent,” he says.
He doesn’t sell painting of celebrities he is known for, he says he gets private orders and the pricing varies. No matter what the naysayers say, Rasta isn’t moved. He is not done painting-in fact he hopes detractors will soon catch-on.
Here are 10 photos of his memorable works: