Q&A with 2019 Award Finalist: BALEKANE LEGOABE

After careful consideration of several hundred entries by artists from across South Africa, the judges have shortlisted 10 artists working in a number of mediums including painting, photography, digital art and printmaking.

The work of the shortlisted artists will go on show in a special exhibition at StateoftheART’s Cape Town gallery from 27 August – 14 September 2019 and the winner announced at the Award Ceremony on 05 September. The winner will be awarded a R20 000 cash prize and a solo exhibition with the gallery in 2020.

We asked the Ten Gallery Award Finalists some questions to help you get to know them before the Finalists Exhibition.


Artist Statement:

The fact that humans can simultaneously experience an array of
overlapping emotions is something that has always fascinated me.
As people, we have the ability to occupy more than one emotional state at a time, which means that our feelings can, and often times do, exist in a liminal space. my work explores the concept of liminality in relation to emotional states.

I make use of varying degrees of opacity to simultaneously hide and reveal information in my work. I also layer and overlap images, shapes and colours. These visual techniques facilitate the concept in that they all have to do with the layering of two or more separate pieces of
information in order to make the viewer aware of an existing middle ground, or liminal space.

The artworks submitted form part of a body of work that I am currently creating titled, “Sleeping Over at Other People’s Houses.”

The series visually explores the darkness and complexities of the
emotional and mental lows felt over the last three years due to
compromising on held values and truths. The title itself is a metaphor for compromising the values and beliefs that one holds and adopting another’s in order to win favour with them. By choosing to compromise, one is no longer “sleeping at their own house” but “sleeping over at another’s.”

These artworks embody heartache, pain, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, abandonment, confusion and rumination. They explore notions of fearing men, deviating from truth, keeping idols and compromising to one’s detriment.

I want my work to create a visceral experience that encourages and propels viewers to tap into the complexity and obscurity of the emotions that they feel and to recognize that they exist within a liminal space.


Tell us about yourself. Where are your from, and where do you currently live?

My name is Balekane Legoabe. I am from Pretoria, and am currently living in Pretoria.

Art school (and if so where) or self-taught?

I’m an art school girl. I matriculated for The National School of the Arts and then went on to obtain two BA degrees from The Open Window Institute. I majored in illustration, Motion Design, and Stop Motion and Puppetry.

How did you learn about the Award and what made you want to enter?

My good friend Sydney Keeney sent me the link and details about the award and I decided to enter!
Untitled Ed.1/3

What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?

I think that it’s really great. It’s super awesome that the StateoftheART Gallery is providing a platform for emerging artists, because this isn’t exactly the easiest industry to break in to. It’s cool that the award is so accessible, and that the entry process is uncomplicated.

Tell us about where you make your work.

I work from home. Thanks to my mom I now have a nice little home studio. I’m trying to make it all pretty and the best environment to work in.

What is your key inspiration as an artist?

I’m inspired by three different areas. In terms of visuals, I’m really inspired by delicate and beautiful objects and elements in nature. Creation is powerful, beautiful and so enchanting. I also draw inspiration from personal experiences, and the way that things make me feel. Film and music are also huge sources of inspiration for me.

Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?

A tidy space. I always try and declutter my work space and get all of my materials ready. This somehow helps me to get my brain in order. I also put on a nice playlist or sermon to work to. Also, a cup of flavoured herbal tea.

Sleeping Over at Other People's Houses Ed. 1/3
Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?

I’m kind of obsessed with the work of Louis de Villiers. I love his subject matter, the scale of his work and his expressive mark-making. Mikhael Subotzky is another. He works in so many different ways and mediums. Lady Skollie and Seth Pimentel as well - I find their work intense and visceral. 

How is your work relevant in a South African context?

I think that my work is very current. It touches on emotions and expresses the heartbeat of the youth when it comes to our relationships with ourselves and others. I deal with very personal topics, but in such a way that others can relate to them.

What do you think South African artists can contribute to the global art market?

 The complexity of simultaneous diversity and unison. All of the tension and nuances that come with living in a country that is divided on so many fronts, yet at the same time wanting the same end goal - peace of mind and safety. There is a lot that can be expressed visually with regards to this. There are so many stories to be shared.

StateoftheART is South Africa's leading online gallery. How important do you think it is for an artist's career to market their work online and through social media?

I think that online and social media presence are imperative for an artist’s career. When you make your work available online you’re able to reach a much wider audience because you aren’t confined by space or time.

How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works?

I’m super excited. It’s honestly such a privilege and I still can’t believe that I’m a part of the top ten. I checked out the other finalist’s art, and everyone’s work is so different. It’s going to be a truly exciting and versatile show. 

Do you have any plans for the coming year?

Just to keep practicing my craft, and hopefully keep exhibiting art. Just to keep feeling and to keep creating.

If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2020?

I would definitely put my motion design skills to use and animate some of my pieces. I would also include some sound design. I would really put all my effort into putting my thoughts and feelings on display, and immersing the viewers into a truly visceral experience.

Finally, tell us something surprising about yourself.

I have a very awesome music collection via Spotify. DM me for recommendations.