Batswana Artists featured at FNB Art Joburg

Four took up space at one of Africa’s biggest art fairs last weekend

Gosego Motsumi

Local artists Karabo Maine, Tebogo Cranwell, Moratiwa Molema and Sedireng Mothibatsela hoisted the country’s flag high when their artworks were featured at the FNB Art Joburg that was hosted by Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa last weekend.

Curator and owner of Ora Loapi Gallery, Lerato Motshwarakgole, presented the works of Maine, Cranwell and Molema while Mothibatsela showcased her “Martha Francis” pieces with LA and Lagos-based Rele Gallery.

“I was able to sell two sculptures while Maine and Cranwell sold all their pieces,” Molema told Time Out.


An artist and educator, Molema showcased her sculptures for which she uses the medium of Plaster of Paris. She merges traditional aesthetics with new media and has an affinity for sculptural works made of different materials.

“One of my sculptures is called ‘I Went to White Schools all my Life, I can’t Speak my Language and I don’t know who I am Any More.’ Another one is called ‘I am Queer and I Come from a Staunch Catholic Afrikaaner Family.’ Yet another one is called ‘I am an Orphan, my Relatives Adopted me and I am Looking for a Job.’”


Describing his work as portrait art featuring mainly faces with a strong black or ‘African’ aesthetic, Maine showcased a series of three paintings. The series focused on big-scale portraiture titled “I’m Finally Listening,” which loosely translates into “Jaanong ke Reeditse,” in Setswana.

Said Maine: “My interest in portraiture is expressed differently in my current body of work. The pieces are larger in scale and I am using people in my immediate community as references. This process is more intimate and proximal for me. The material is also different – primed canvas replaces paper and acrylic paint in the place of ink.”

“One of the first places I learnt to express myself through art was at UCCSA. As a child, my family and I would attend church service in Gaborone every Sunday. But I wasn’t able to focus on the sermon and would sketch in their Bibles and hymnbooks. My parents eventually gave me scrap paper to draw on.”

“I drew the heroes I could remember from the comic books that my mother and father bought for me. For a long time the figures in my work have worn a uniform of sorts – long robes with African-inspired patterns and motifs. The work deals with nostalgia and memory because the robes are an idealised version of my memory of the UCCSA choir uniforms.”

Illustration of black and brown men and women has been a running theme in Maine’s work where he usually incorporates the faces with patterns and some kind of abstraction in their clothing.


With her minimalist pallet, Cranwell also showcased three works titled “Boswa” at FNB Art Joburg. Her works mostly explore beauty, femininity, sensuality and intimacy but this time around she explored her connection with her family.

“This series provides a connection with my family and with generations before and after me,” she said. “It represents familial memory; the common threads that bind us and brings us together like a lifeline to our past and a history that I didn’t recognise until confronted with the death of our matriarch.”

“The use of mokgwapha (aloe) throughout the series is representative of the bitter sap in the leaves has treated our wounds and our sores, and the knowledge that has been passed down our family tree for generations.”


Contemporary artist, Sedireng Mothibatsela also showcased her artworks at the hub section of the art fair.


FNB Art Joburg
The art showcase took place from 2 to 4 September 2022 with offerings from the continent’s contemporary artists. FNB Art Joburg’s mandate is to sustainably support and grow the continent’s cultural offering in ways that go beyond the fair.