What happens “When a Big Star Shines?”

“To make humanity happier and help people find meaning in their daily lives,” Wilson Ngoni, who is arguably Botswana’s pre-eminent painter, says of his current collection that is on display at Thapong where the floor has been turned into a veritable tapestry of objects and images sculpted, carved and crafted from wood by his mentor and friend, Victoria Sethibe


“When a Big Star Shines” is an exhibition currently on display at Thapong Visual Arts Centre featuring the works of fine artist, Wilson Ngoni. The oil paintings were drawn from the artist’s recent oeuvre that features paintings that are poetic in bringing about a rich sense of Botswana culture and its people – wildlife in its habitat and the San in their daily musings, among others. Days leading up to the highly-anticipated exhibiton, Ngoni gave art enthusiats a few glimpses into some of the paintings that will be hanging on the gallery walls.

“I called this exhibition “When a Big Star Shines” because when I was touring Europe viting a lot of international museums, I was told that in the history of art they had never seen anything similar to what I do with the brush,” Ngoni said. “From the Picassos and other well-known artists, none has been able to bring the African feel to the arts scene. So I feel that Botswana is shining. It is the big star through my art,”

Asked about what he wants to evoke through this body of work, Wilson responded: “To make humanity happier and help people find meaning in their daily lives.”
Most of Ngoni’s art pieces are laced with solid spots of colour that he says are symbolic of his artistic objective of contributing to the general happiness of humanity. “I asked myself what I was contributing to humanity as an individual,” he contuned. “I paint, beautify and teach. People from all walks of life have bought my paintins and I have been heavily supported. So by allowing myself to give these paintings, that’s when I realised that if you need support you also need to give. So I am giving these works so we enjoy them. In 600 years we might be all forgotten. So let’s live for now and enjoy these paintings. We might not know each other but let these works be the connection for us all.”

This is not lost to the Coordinator of Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Reginal Bakwena, who is full of praise for Ngoni’s continuous passion for his craft and for inspiring upcoming artists to chart their own paths. As an institution, Bakwena says Thapong appreciates artists who can travel and show Botswana’s art to the world.

“Wilson didn’t sit on his talent, which is an inspiration for upcoming artists,” Bakwena said. “He interacts with intercational art curators to see his weaknesses and strengths because at the end of the day we also have to create a market outside our country. There are concerns that our artists are not travelling and are not penetrationg the market. Maybe it’s because we lack conceptual works. So let us try to build concepts that attract the international market because they are hungry for our art.”

Ngoni’s exhibiton opened on Thursday last week and will run until 27 March 2020. “When a Big Star Shines” also features the works of Ngoni’s secondary school teacher, Victoria Sethibe, whose objects and images crafted, carved and sculpted from wood stake out their own sovereingty on the gallery’s floor.