Episode 56

Published on:

25th Jun 2021

Photo Realism: Part II

Part II of this two part interview with one of Botswana's most celebrated visual artists, Wilson Ngoni. Art lexical is a podcast where we talk art and art processes.


Wesley: [00:00:00] Greetings everybody, uh, wesley pepper here. And this is my podcast wesley pepper’s are Lexica, which is brought to you by Spudcaster and baobulb, yeah. Thanks everybody for tuning in, uh, to all the new listeners and returning listeners greetings to you all. Thank you for tuning in to listen to me, speak for the next hour or so.

[00:00:29] Um, yeah. Thank you. Um, yeah, as you guys know today is, uh, episode two or part two of the interview with Wilson Ngoni. Uh, just to recap on last week's episode, um, last week we pretty much covered is, uh, the first half of his story. So how he got into the arts, how he choose and interacts with the subject matter, um, His philosophy as an artist.

[00:00:57] And, uh, we ended up with him talking on his book. Um, there was a bit of a technical, uh, technical thing in, you know, kind of in a, to a properly, but, um, yeah, well, we were, we just started to talk on his book and I was actually going to end the interview off there back then there was, uh, you know, the line just cut for whatever reason.

[00:01:17] I still don't know. Um, how that happened. Um, yeah, man. And, uh, today's in today's episode, um, we're going to talk about his legacy as an artist. So we're going to focus on his book. Um, we're gonna, we're gonna go into detail on that. Um, so we've cover everything, you know, are we, um, Oh, we got to conceptualising the book, how he did it because he self-published it.

[00:01:39] And, um, to be honest with you, you know, as you guys know, I've worked as a publisher for the longest time and, um, um, actually don't know anybody that has self published, a coffee table book. And for my listeners who doesn't know what a coffee table book is, that's just a local word for a. Well, an art book you notice, usually to think about is usually about the excess of 200, 300 pages, um, you know, hard cover and it's usually quite pricey.

[00:02:03] So, um, we're going to get into that. We're going to look about, we're going to talk about these future, you know, future projects. Uh, artworks shows, et cetera. And, um, he told me also he's looking to do a museum and I found that super, super, super interesting. So I definitely want to hear what his plans is around that.

[00:02:23] Um, I don't know if you guys know that, um, I'm actually very, very interested in that. I mean, sometime ago, I think it was around about 2015, 2016. Um, I was talking to some guys and we were in the process of, you know, research on the person. We were busy researching, putting up a street art museum actually in Fietas.

[00:02:42] Um, uh, but that's another story. Maybe I'll do an episode on that in the, not too distant future. So in other words, it's just something I'm super, super interested in knowing, and I understand the value of a museum too. And, um, Yeah, I wouldn't be covering all of that. So stay tuned for that. But remember, the art giveaway is still up for grabs or whatever, so like subscribe and comment on this current episode and we'll choose a name randomly and you can win an original artwork done by yours

[00:03:08] truly. So, yeah, I mean, I hope you guys are prepared for today's episode. Um, I know. Yeah. I enjoy talking to Wilson the last time and I know it's going to be pretty interesting and he’s probably got a whole bunch of things to say. Um, so yeah, man, uh, hope you guys do enjoy that and I will talk to you at the end of this with, uh, more information on future episodes and to wrap it all up.

[00:03:31] So yeah. Thanks guys for tuning in. And I'll talk to you after this. 

[00:03:35] spudcaster: [00:03:35] baobulb.org is a podcasting platform and a medium for storytelling. This podcast is also available on all the major podcasting apps, including apple and Google podcasts. Podcast your life with baobulb.org.

[00:03:55] Wesley: [00:03:55] Um, Wilson Ngoni, thanks for coming through again, my brother, uh, we were just talking a little bit off air. You were saying that, you don’t catch the flu Wilson: um, Yeah. Yeah.      Wesley: How do you, how do you do that? Is it your diet, you know, is, uh, Joe, uh, are you you exercising? Are you healthy? How do you manage not to get, uh, cause everyone is complaining in

[00:04:20] South Africa, you know, the cold and the flu and all of that. How do you, how are you managing to stay, stay safe? 

[00:04:27] Wilson: [00:04:27] Uh, I don't know. I don't know people, I think naturally if flu is not something that, will easily attack me because was, uh, I have never had flu, uh, all my life. So maybe, well, I might say all my life, I don't know, uh, before, before my life came right now, but you know, I, I don't remember myself catching flu at all.

[00:04:55] Wesley: [00:04:55] That's pretty interesting. Um, I'm a pretty, I'll say a healthy guy myself. So, you know, I exercise, I eat healthy and that type of thing. Um, but I still, yeah, but anyway,

[00:05:08] yeah, 

[00:05:08] Wilson: [00:05:08] yeah. At that time I thought that's, you know, because, um, uh, the past, uh, three decades I've been living in, in, in, in my studio, Uh, and with the oil paint. So that at that time I thought maybe it's oil paint that just keeps flu away from me. 

[00:05:23] Wesley: [00:05:23] Interesting. I know, I know. I don't know the properties of that, but I know that smell is actually quite intoxicating for me.

[00:05:33] I love it actually. Um, it's yeah, it's comforting because you need to smell that space. 

[00:05:42] Wilson: [00:05:42] Yeah. If I stayed for three days out of my studio, I start getting depressed. I don't know if it's something that other artists, but, you know, I start catching, uh, just bad feelings, you know? 

[00:05:58] Wesley: [00:05:58] Yeah. Yeah. I know. I get that.

[00:06:02] I understand it. Um, like if I like, as honestly you need to be productive, it's like just yesterday, I sent away artworks yesterday to the gallery. Um, and I need to start a new one. So now it's on my side one, so that it's like, my life is now. I, I need to be busy. I need to wake up. So, so yeah, that's actually quite beautiful.

[00:06:29] My brother.

[00:06:33] Because I understand the, I understand the process of an artist needing to produce, and I understand how important it is. Not just for a commercial respect to the artists, um, mentally, physically, and everything. I think that's really, really important for the artist to keep doing that. Um, So with your, with your side, you've got, like you were saying, that's a substantial, you have a substantial body of work.

[00:06:58] You're well celebrated and received artists as well. So when you were telling us in last week's episode that you put together, this book, this coffee table book on your portfolio. Um, tell us, um, let's, let's start there. My brother, let's start from the beginning. Um, tell me, so, um, how did it all come together?

[00:07:19] Um, what team did you have to pull the guys together? Where did you start a little bit from there? 

[00:07:26] Wilson: [00:07:26] Uh, well, uh, in the past, uh, the Pepper, just to, to tell you, uh, a bit of backstory with me and public speaking and writing, I I've been writing for quite some time and. Uh, like what, what, uh, around 1998, uh, I, I put some, a couple of manuscripts, uh, together and try to get them published.

[00:07:52] I gave them to some of my teachers, uh, to, to proofread. They never returned my manuscripts, Pepper and journal. Well, they, they told me that they were lost and you know, it repeated and repeated and repeated when I wrote more and more and more give it to people, to, to proofread, uh, for me. And they never returned my manuscript.

[00:08:16] Uh, and you know, I started even noticing, even when I wrote compositions at school, uh, My teachers will use them as like the, the, the, the, the marking key for, for, for the class. You know? So I, I started noticing even when I wrote, uh, like, uh, some essays in social studies in history, uh, I started realising that, oh, this thing might be something really, really important.

[00:08:45] So if we take, like I say, in the previous, uh, uh, Chat with you that, you know, I was quite gifted academically, but I, I, in school, I didn't like school. So of course there was so much pressure from every subject. Every school wanted me to, to pursue, uh, what they're they're subject to would they have as a vocation at the end of my academic life.

[00:09:11] So, um, W with the writing. I continued to write, I wrote a lot of poetry. I wrote a lot of lyrics. I wrote a lot of, uh, novels books about I, you know, uh, and whenever I give it to people to proofread, it never returned. So, you know, I, I studied that pattern and I actually thought it was, they were stealing my literature.

[00:09:41] And with that, uh, instead of, uh, being angry, I started celebrating that, you know, people will not still trash people was steal gold. Yeah. I agree with you, uh, getting my material, not returning it, it was very, very motivating to me. So, yeah. Uh, some years back, uh, I, I wrote some, some, some books, uh, again poetry, had a local publisher do them and, you know, one of them, uh, they were getting into the academic system, but, you know, I, I didn't get paid, uh, good realities.

[00:10:20] And sometimes even to this day, I never get royalties, but my book has been used in schools. So I making noise and scandals in uh, 2014. Uh, so in 2010, uh, I was one of the artists who was in South Africa, when the Royal Bafokeng stadium was opened for the world cup. So I was one of the artists was exhibiting there and, uh, I was involved in a lot of, um, activities then exhibitions, uh, with the, the, the Royal, uh, uh, chiefs in that region, um, other artists.

[00:11:11] So, and from there, I was also invited to. To, to, to, to come view the world cup. Um, so, uh, I stayed in Cape town while I was in Cape town. I went to Robben island. So at Robben island, uh, we had, uh, people who, um, the likes of Sparks. There's a gentleman called sparks. Uh, was, uh, one of the, uh, tour guides.

[00:11:49] I mean, at the Robben Island museum. So is he narrated the story about how they lived during the oppressive apartheid, South Africa. Uh, I, I could feel it, uh, when I went to Mandela cell cl these people, the people live today and still managed to survive. It managed to make it, you know, I wonder how am I not making it when I have all the freedom that I have, uh, Uh, out here, uh, given that, you know, I lived, um, lives that had a lot of, uh, activity, both harrowing activities and very, very exciting activities as well, like extreme losses and, um, extreme winds.

[00:12:47] Yes. Well, you know, in 2010, when I returned home from after world cup, I started putting up, um, a book that is called doors to my eyes, doors to my eyes it's, um, it's a narration about my life, my childhood experiences. Um, I, I, I lived with a stepmother in a foreign country and how I was treated, uh, as a foreigner in Zimbabwe.

[00:13:12] And when I'd returned to back to Botswana, I was treated for, and, you know, when I visited places like South Africa and Zambia, Ethiopia, and other places, I started fitting in very, very well because, uh, I learned how to survive and even now I will not fail to become an artist and survive as an artist when, uh, for instance, uh, w w when I was growing, uh, in, in some, some, some hoods.

[00:13:41] You know, you see prostitutes along, uh, along the pavement, uh, selling pussy and, you know, you interviewed with them, uh, Pepper, you, you hear that, you know, they're selling pussy as a commodity to feed their families. So you, you start wondering if a prostitute can sell prostitutes, can sell, pussy on the sidewalk and feed their families.

[00:14:06] How we, with all this literature, I failed to write a book that can feed my family,

[00:14:16] failed to produce some good paintings to feed his family or feed himself. So you see, um, everything, everything, uh, became, uh, one thing and also, uh, Pepper. One other thing that made me to, to, to, to write was the quest to package myself as an artist

[00:14:37] if he, if he Pepper pig,

[00:14:43] pig, pig, 

[00:14:48] Wesley: [00:14:48] I'm listening. I'm 

[00:14:49] Wilson: [00:14:49] listening. Yeah. Yeah, so it, nobody wants to be called a pig. The pig is a washed properly cut properly into nice pieces. Uh, and now it's on the shelf. It becomes very expensive meat. 

[00:15:05] Wesley: [00:15:05] That's a good one and a delicious meat,

[00:15:08] Wilson: [00:15:08] delicious meat, for that matter and you know, uh, I just, when I conduct some of my, my writing precesses or my artistic research is, you know, going to shops, uh, find this, uh, big, uh, big belly guy with nice beautiful woman and know, you'll be saying, babe, you want bacon? 

[00:15:26] Uh, this like tasty soft, high quality soft meat. Initially it was just a

[00:15:33] pig. See,

[00:15:40] I decided to package myself properly Pepper. You know, if a pig is a pig is packaged, cut and packaged properly, it becomes, uh, it becomes pork.

[00:15:55] Wesley: [00:15:55] I love it. I love that. I love that. 

[00:15:59] Wilson: [00:15:59] So you see putting books, putting up a coffee table book like this one, uh, Wilson Ngoni living with the brush. It is a way of packaging myself and launching myself into the ad scene and cementing, uh, my, my dream as an artist, as a professional, it is now my position is it is a appropriate.

[00:16:18] Now it is, I think it's cemented by. By this, uh, book, which is this catalog, which is in a book format, um, packaging, Wilson Ngoni into this book, uh, living with a brush, like my, my, my new book. Um, I feel it's it's it's it's it's success. Sure. I feel also, it will save a lot of other, uh, intentions that I have, like, you know, I can't have exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world right now, due to the COVID-19.

[00:16:53] So why not put a book, you know, uh, in a catalog for so that people can experience my work in their, in their self to have their houses in offices, you know, Besides that, like I said, I'm packaging myself. Like how a pig gets packaged. Uh, this book carries my name it's so it carries my brand.

[00:17:19] So it's branding. So this is like a business card  yes, it is hard. And also is a source of revenue because, you know, I, I'm not giving this book for free. Uh, well, unless if I, I find the needs to I'm selling this. 

[00:17:38] Wesley: [00:17:38] How much you're selling it for my brother. 

[00:17:41] Wilson: [00:17:41] Uh, it's $150 

[00:17:44] Wesley: [00:17:44] us dollars. 

[00:17:46] Wilson: [00:17:46] Yes. 

[00:17:48] Wesley: [00:17:48] Okay. Okay. That's um, that's um, that's

[00:18:00] a good sign, uh, so forth. Um, when did you start working on it? And, um, when was it published? 

[00:18:09] Wilson: [00:18:09] I published it last year, December. Uh, I've been working on this book since 2016, 2017. I rated my work though. Uh, I didn't curate it to you, uh, in a, in a way that, you know, I think, uh, professionals do. I think I'm satisfied.

[00:18:29] Wesley: [00:18:29] Explain to me why I wonder, I want to ask you that. How did you manage to choose the artworks? Because usually with those types of books, you know, portfolios and so on, because like your writer knows the market, et cetera. How did you, um, select your artworks?

[00:18:51] Wilson: [00:18:51] Um, well, what I did, the first thing that I did is I just censored myself just to beat both

[00:19:00] Um, write-ups and, um, uh, and, and the pictorial, uh, aspect of the book, uh, I, I removed, uh, provocative work, especially, uh, paintings that is, uh, nudes. Okay. Yes. I didn't put a lot of breasts in this book. Uh, yeah. Uh, you know, I've painted it. Yeah. Uh, thousands and thousands of breasts, uh, uh, because it's one of the breasts, uh, just to say, breasts, Pepper breasts, uh, the greatest generosity of the universe, uh, You know, I, I will not ignore breasts as part of the major inspiration that I live.

[00:19:47] Um, amongst, uh, in this particular book, I decided not to, to put them at home to put them at home. Um, uh, because this book also, I have a son, I decided to do this book to my son. Wesley: Yes. What's his name? Wilson: His name is Essa. Okay. Yeah. So my dedication line to him, um, is, uh, if you're going to be a witch, make sure you're haunted.

[00:20:21] Wesley: [00:20:21] Um, explain to me 

[00:20:25] Wilson: [00:20:25] if you are going to be a witch, make sure you haunt. Uh, haunt as in  

[00:20:30] Wesley: [00:20:30] T. Yeah. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So, so, so, so, so what are you telling him to be true to himself?

[00:20:36] Wilson: [00:20:36] Yes. If you go into, to be whatever wants to be in he should make sure that he goes, uh, from one straight to three, to 100. You see if it be an artist, it shouldn't be just like, uh, An artist who waits to explain a lot, uh, really really paint.

[00:20:58] Um, he shouldn't need to do, um, if he's going to be an engineer, he should make sure that he does engineering with his all, uh, so now you understand Pepper, it's not my son who is going to read this book. many other people. but that you're educating your son to be a police officer so that you can catch you. He was not coming to arrest you, uh, you arrest, uh, robbers and protect the whole nation out there.

[00:21:27] So, uh, this book was a lot of people would read it. I walk into motivate them to, to realize themselves and to, to do that. And you know, you never run losses from doing your best. 

[00:21:42] Wesley: [00:21:42] Hmm. Interesting. Interesting, interesting. Uh, that's really interesting. That's really interesting. You were saying in our episode last week about the guy who wrote the foreword and, um, we had, uh, um, you know, w I write ups on the book and explain to me again, just briefly, what did they have to say about it, um, in order to market your book?

[00:22:10] Wilson: [00:22:10] Oh, uh, I Thebe Ikalafeng. He is the, the, the, the, the founder, um, and the chairperson of, uh, Brand Africa. He is south African. Uh, he wrote the forward. 

[00:22:33] Wesley: [00:22:33] Um, yes, so. Well, I mean, you don't have to do that. You don't have to read it, but can you just give me like a, like a, you know, basically what did you have to say?

[00:22:44] Wilson:...

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Wesley Pepper's Art Lexica
This is a show where we talk art and art processes. It's typically an interview format, where we talk to different artists about their journey.

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