Young Mothers & Hawkers in Mabopane
eight colour lithograph
56 x 76 cm
Tommy Motswai's work is crammed with bustling activity, of people going about their business, laughing, talking, shouting with cars and trains rushing past, but Tommy hears none of this as he has been deaf since birth. What he sees is what is important, and when he puts it down on paper it is a testimony to the joy, excitement and pleasure he sees in the world around him.
Tommy was born in Johannesburg in 1963, and attended the Kutlwanong school for the deaf from 1968 to 1979. He began to draw while still at school, and continued studying art at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and FUBA after completing school. In 1985 he won a bursary from Sanlam, and began exhibiting. In 1986 one of his drawings was shown at an international exhibition in Monte Carlo and in 1987 he won a merit prize in the Volkskas Atelier exhibition. Shortly thereafter he was selected for the Cape Town Triennnial. He also won the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year award. His work is sought after by collectors, and is in major public and private collections throughout South Africa.
He pays great attention to minute detail as he sees it, and consciously makes an effort to record life's important incidents and moments. His work often includes humour and good-natured exchanges between people. He records the happy and cheerful aspects of his world, and leaves all frustrations and despair out of his art.
Motswai first worked at The Artists' Press in 1993 and since then has produced numerous editions at the studio. Lithography particularly suits his colourful way of working, and it is always a great pleasure to have him in the studio. His visual skills are remarkably acute, and he intuitively manipulates the complex multiple colour overlays, as if it is something he has always done.
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BORN 1963 Soweto, Gauteng.
1968 -79 Kutlwanong School for the Deaf.
1988 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
1990 Natalie Knight Gallery.
1992 Received the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award Work exhibited at the Grahamstown Festival Nation-wide year long tour.
1995/6 Chosen as guest artist in Toronto of New Horizons Work selected to be exhibited by Centre for the Arts and the Bomani Gallery, both in San Francisco
1986 Participated in the exhibition Tomorrow is Now which toured Canada from Toronto to Vancouver. The show was curated by Knight Galleries International and Natalie Knight - The Art Source South Africa.
1997 Commissioned by Telkom to produce a work for the Art and the Internet exhibition, a nationwide exhibition which was also beamed to the world on the net
1988 Included in the Cape Town Triennial
1997 Selected by the Standard Bank as part of their social awareness campaign.
2003 Prints from The Artists' Press Archive, Good Hope Gallery, The Castle, Cape Town.
1994 Commissioned to paint a portrait of President Mandela for the cover of Vogue Magazine (France).
1987 Won the Volkskas Atelier Merit Prize, the Sol Plaatjies Graphic Art Award and the Excelsior Award
1988 Received the Vita Art Now Quarterly Award. 1992 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award
Public collections include:
the Johannesburg Art Gallery SA National Gallery Cape Town University of South Africa University of the Witwatersrand SASOL Art Collection Trust Bank Art Collection Pretoria Art Museum Durban Art Museum King George VI Art Museum, in Port Elizabeth.
Work in numerous private collections locally and abroad.