Previous exhibitions and fairs
Africa Now: Contemporary Painters, THK Gallery, Cologne, Germany, 2022
Enter Art Fair, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022
Open City, FNB Art Joburg, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2022
Flights of Fancy, THK Gallery, THK X Boschendal X Norval, Cape Town, South Africa, 2022
De.code, THK Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, 2022
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, South Africa, 2022
Also Known As Africa (AKAA), Paris, France, 2021
Art X Lagos Online, 2021
1-54 African Art Fair, Somerset House, London, England, 2021
1-54 African Art Fair Paris Online, 2021
Reflect. Re-imagine. Reset, THK Gallery, Cape Town, 2020-2021
Latitudes Online, 2020
The Black Dot, David Baillie Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2020
About the artist
Lerato Motaung is a visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. After training in drawing at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2008 and in sculpture at the Katlehong Art Center in 2009, Motaung received his Diploma in Fine Arts from the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, in 2015.
Motaung has developed a highly individualistic style of figurativism whereby his subjects often have multiple eyes. When asked about this, Motaung explains that he has spent time in different locations in and around South Africa: from the township of Katlehong where he grew up, to Lesotho where his father is from, to Johannesburg where he currently lives and works. Each place has its own distinct set of expectations of him as a man – from how he’s supposed to dress, to displays of wealth and physical strength. The eyes therefore represent variations in people’s perceptions of us depending on the location we’re in. To successfully navigate through different spaces, we have to understand what those perceptions are and respond accordingly.
Motaung’s major breakthrough as an artist came in 2020. Since then, his work has been included in In the Black Fantastic, a book published in 2022 by Ekow Eshun, international art fairs such as 1-54 Paris at Christie’s and Investec Cape Town Art Fair, as well as exhibitions around the world in Germany, Denmark, England, France and South Africa.
Sources of inspiration
Motaung’s exposure to different cultures and value systems greatly influence him as an artist. He draws inspiration from his day-to-day life in metropolitan Johannesburg, as well as from memories of his youth in the North West province and his transition to manhood in the township of Katlehong, primarily concerned with how human interaction, perception and social expectations vary in different places.
Motaung sees his work as a tool for challenging and broadening perception. We all have blind spots: aspects that we don’t see in both ourselves and others. Motaung encourages us to think more critically about how we perceive others, how others perceive us and the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of such perceptions. As an artist, Motaung acknowledges that not everyone will like every piece of work he creates. ‘Even if my work isn’t liked by a specific individual, I still appreciate that they notice it and express a view on it. People must be free to express their views – positive and negative – without the fear of exclusion because that’s how we learn and understand others.’
‘As an artist, it’s important that I continue to enjoy the ability to create whatever makes sense to me - through my eyes and in my own mind. It’s a long journey but that freedom and flexibility are important to my practice.’ – Lerato Motaung