FINE artist Kabelo Letshwene hard at work.
Pretoria - The work of fine arts graduate from Hammanskraal, Kabelo Letshwene, has been recognised by several public figures, including Maps Maponyane.

Letshwene had drawn a portrait of the TV presenter, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur. In return, Maponyane thanked him for the work done entirely with a pen. “Definitely not rusty at all,” said Maponyane of the artist's work.

The 26-year-old has caught the attention of social media users with portraits of the biggest names in the country, including DJ Fresh, Cassper Nyovest, Black Coffee and Tbo Touch.

He said he usually drew famous faces because people related to them, and their feedback helped him to improve and receive recognition.

Letshwene uses a cross hatch and scrabbling and describes his work as being close to nature.

He realised when he was in primary school that he had the talent to draw. At the time, he had drawn a portrait for former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Back then, classmates and teachers would pay him money to draw them. “At that point I did not take the art seriously, until I was in matric. It has been a fair and promising journey so far.”

He has been featured in several projects and exhibitions, and was a finalist in the Thami Mnyele Fine Art Awards and featured in the Fazoo Projects and third-year student exhibition at the Tshwane University of Technology.

He said he was inspired by his struggles. For instance, when he was still in university he used expensive materials which he could hardly afford. A pen was the only medium which was easily accessible and cheap, but hard to perfect.

“When I stand before my paper, I imagine myself behind a gun with two options - to perfect the craft and leave or fail and die. I used the very same philosophy in life as a general to push myself to greater heights and it also helps me to be disciplined in life.

“My drawings are closer to nature; my favourites are the depiction of two young boys hugging each other because I believe that children are calm, possess love and are still connected to nature. But as we grow up we lose a possession of calmness and love. Growing up is a force,” he said.

Letshwene said his dream was to raise awareness of authenticity and preserve culture. The important step for him was to exhibit in major galleries. His plan was to further his studies as a teacher.

“The ignorance and lack of art teaching in our schools has become a serious issue. The artistic skills ends up in the drain because parents and children are not aware of their talents.

“Parents are only concerned about their children becoming doctors or lawyers, hence we have so many drop-outs who are skilled, talented and not intellectual. However, I do not consider artists as illiterate,” he added.

Pretoria News