The great Pablo Picasso once said every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
While a good number fall in this category of not knowing how to remain an artist once they grow up, the same cannot be said for 25-year-old Moemedi Lesley Sebonego, affectionately known as Dameso,whose love for art began from the age of seven.
The fine artist Sebonego specialises in pencil monochromes. For that, he has won numerous competitions in Botswana and sold several of his art works while some are still hanging in exhibitions halls.
The Telegraph was introduced to this creative genius in Lobatse recently by his friend who felt that the artist was not exposed enough given his over the top artistic talent.
It was until our encounter that The Telegraph experienced this larger than life artist who is so positive on the outlook of art in the country and wanted parents to support and encourage children who displayed a love for art from an early age.
When Sebonego started doing art at the age of 7 he was using different media to express himself like paint, pencil and oil pastels but as he grew up he then decided to focus on one medium which is pencil as if he feels more confident with it.
He says he gets his inspiration from German acclaimed hyperrealism artist known as Dirk Dzimirsky.
“I want to see myself where he is as I feel like I am not quite there yet, I am still pushing myself to be one of the best when it comes to photo realism or hyperrealism art. This is where you paint the figure as detailed as it is and make it look like a photo.” He explained.
Sebonego believes that if one has passion for art they must pursue it because art is a career and not just something you do at school because you want to get good grades.
He also noted that there is a lot of money in art if you are able to market and position yourself well.
“It is still a bit slow in our country because a lot of Batswana have not yet started to appreciate art.” He added.
He says he would like to see their art works being sold at high prices like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Sebonego says he has been able to make good monies with his craft but covid-19 threw him a bit off the market as his customers don’t buy like they used to and exhibitions have been stopped.
He added that the last artwork he sold was an art work that won the Presidential competitions last year and has another one stuck at the ministry of youth that he is trying to sell.
He paints from his home in Lobatse but most of his clientele is based in Gaborone where most exhibitions are held.
He has translated his art into tattoos and haircuts as he believes if art is in you then you can do anything that you want with it.
He started putting his artistry into haircuts about 5 years ago when his friends asked him to diversify into cutting hair as they believed whatever he can do on paper could also be translated into hair.
“A friend of mine saw my artwork and asked me to translate on hair and skin and it came out great. I can do any type of design on your head or on your skin.” He noted.
He says he doesn’t feel a lot of impact from government support as he wishes government could organize more competitions and more exhibitions to get them a lot more recognition. He also called for the formation of an arts council and more collaborations amongst artists and for more established artists to help upcoming ones.
Sebonego says he is deeply concerned that art is underrated in Botswana though it’s such a huge spectacle that he believes can do wonders for this country.
He noted that he has seen a deep desire for art from those younger than him but has seen many stop because there is lack of guidance and support from parents.
Just like many before him he is also calling for a lot of focus to be put in the Creative sector as this could help in the curbing of the high unemployment rate that this country continues to experience.
Unlike most of his peers he has a positive outlook on life and doesn’t consider himself struggling because he is able to fend for himself using his talents.
He says young people must continue to follow their dreams and make the most out of their talents.
“You see that thing that you do best with the least amount of effort, do it, don’t run away from that gift, find your gift and you will never go wrong.” He advised.
He says the biggest challenge that he has faced ever since he started doing art professionally is his art works going missing.
He says four of his artworks have gone missing from exhibitions so far of which one of them was worth about P30 000.
He could not explain why his art works always go missing but told this publication that when an art work goes missing at an exhibition, it’s up to the exhibitor to account or take responsibility for the missing art but once this happens he usually finds himself being in limbo as nobody ever wants to take responsibility or account. He also added that the compensation is very low compared to the actual price of the missing art.
Sebonego also stated that Art material is so expensive in this country and material used here is not up to standard with what is being used out there in terms of quality
Another challenge he says is there are few art shops un the Greater Gaborone area.
Apart from art Sebonego says he is also a personal trainer but not a qualified one.
“I’m a personal trainer because I know how to control my body, people see my body on social media and they want to be like me and want to know how I do it.” He expanded.
He says he has managed to retain some clients whom he trains in their home backyard gym in Lobatse with a team of friends.
“We saw that there was a demand for our services and we came together and put up some money together to buy some gym equipment to help others with their body building goals,” he said.