Thursday, May 23, 2024

Khwezi ÔÇô the multi-faceted artist

Graffiti is known to be various things ÔÇô street art, expressive statements on walls, and big fonts on buildings.

In the same breath, it is also regarded as a public nuisance, vandalism and, more seriously, a crime.

For Khwezi Mphatlalatsane, however, it is one of the many exciting ways he expresses his devotion to art.

This unassuming artist is acclaimed as one of the pioneers of this unconventional art form in the streets of Gaborone ÔÇô an art form that is still largely misunderstood as violation of property instead being viewed as legitimate art.

Yet beyond his wall endeavors, Khwezi is also a rapper, photographer, poet and an occasional custom designer.

Khwezi’s eccentric style can be described as a reflection of the Hip Hop Culture he strikingly embodies, whether through his gear, on the mic, or on Gaborone’s walls. Inspired by life, art, love and music, Khwezi’s creativity is birthed by his daily encounters.

Born to a Swati father, a Xhosa mother and raised in Botswana, this artist’s striking versatility is arguably a product of his diverse roots as much as it is a God given gift.

In his adolescent years, his talent for drawing cartoons evolved into a fascination with graffiti writing styles.

“During my high school years in Johannesburg, being exposed to the street art sparked in me a captivation I wanted to explore,” he says. “I fell in love with graffiti and never looked back.”

Having absorbed the vibrant creative scene of Johannesburg, Khwezi sought to spill some of that influence onto Botswana’s art scene.

“About a decade ago, when I relocated back to Gaborone, I turned the shack in my backyard into an art studio. This is where I developed my writing styles and polished my skills,” he says.

“I commissioned my first piece at the National Museum and this is where it became apparent that I could do this professionally.”

When he is not painting walls or murals, this 30-year-old is a well-known rapper credited for his soulful rhymes.

“What began as an expression of emotions in the form of poetry during my teen years expanded into a love for rap,” he states.

‘Mercury Rising’, a song he did in 2011 and which played nationwide, resonates with his love for Hip Hop culture.

Khwezi also has a pronounced eye for capturing moments through photography. His work has featured in popular fashion blogs such as ‘The Khoi-Fro’ and in True Love Magazine.

Through his bursts of creativity, splattering paint stylishly on clothes developed into a way of customizing clothing and has now gained popularity due to its uniqueness. “Juggling talents is demanding, but I ensure that whatever I do, I give it my all,” he says.

Collaborations with Alliance Francaise, The Orange Foundation, and his commission pieces for Boitekanelo College, Orange Flava Dome, just to name a few, have heightened his career and made him a household name on the art scene.

His current piece stands bold on the wall of a restaurant called Liban Mediterranean Cuisine, located in the city’s buzzing center, CBD. A woman with a turban on her head is immersed in dazzling colours that form her intricate features with a beauty that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Recently becoming a parent, Khwezi speaks of how incredible the experience has been so far.

“Being a father has inspired me to work harder at my talents. I want my son, Lwandle, to grow up in an environment that nurtures his dreams and makes his aspirations possible,” he enthuses.
“He has to see me living the reality that if you follow your dreams and work hard at refining them, the world is your oyster.”

With such talents, Khwezi’s future is undoubtedly promising. He hopes that his talents will one day make him an international sensation.


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