Winner of first SA Taxi Foundation Art Awards goes solo
Tshepo Mosopa, winner in 2015 of the inaugural industry-changing SA Taxi Foundation Art Awards, is holding his first solo exhibition at the Lizamore & Associates gallery in Rosebank.
Lizamore & Associates collaborate with the SA Taxi Foundation in organising its annual Art Awards, which are the only ones in South Africa to require artists to produce a piece of original artwork related to a specific theme and then interpret that work as a graphic design to be carried as a decal on minibus taxis.
They are also the only local awards to actively promote art on the move, which is a rapidly growing trend, world-wide.
By making art mobile via minibus taxis, the SA Taxi Foundation Art Awards take art to the people, integrating it into their community fabric. The process also ensures that the artists reach a far larger audience than is possible via gallery exhibitions.
The SA Taxi Foundation Art Awards were recognised as an example of excellence in business support for the art when they won the First Time Sponsor category of the 19th annual business and arts award, BASA, in September.
“The fact that Tshepo is continuing to be recognised for the quality of his work, to the point of being a solo exhibitor at a gallery of Lizamore & Associates’ standing, reinforces our objectives in mounting our art awards,” says Lishani Letchmiah, SA Taxi Foundation director.
“Art is a powerful social change agent because it offers new views of people’s issues and habits of thought. We therefore believe that it is vital that people who do not usually have access to galleries at least have access to art.
“At the same time, we believe it is essential that artists are seen as professionals who make a direct contribution to the emotional and psychological health of a nation.
“However, they can be professionals only if they can earn the kind of living that frees them to continue to explore their own creativity and question the status quo without having to worry about where the next meal is coming from.
“By requiring artists to cross over from fine art to graphic design our award demonstrates that they can work to a commercial brief, opening doors for them into the commercial world.
“It’s gratifying to see that that is what has happened for Tshepo and the other finalists in both years of the Awards so far. Specifically, we are delighted that Tshepo has continued to blend fine art and graphic design, embodying the kind of career we feel is possible for all artists.”
Mosopa says that participating in the SA Taxi Foundation Art Awards deepened his own insight into his favourite topic: the social, political, and economic impact of multiculturalism on the ways in which people establish their individual identities.
“For the Art Awards, I focused on the ways in which access to transport influences our attitudes and lifestyles. My solo exhibition includes other aspects of my body of work, but the questioning process behind each work has become more insistent.
“Also, I’ve always loved graphic design. The Art Award gave me the impetus to enrich more of my fine art work with it.
“Overall, because winning the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award confirms that an artist does have something to say and creates a credible platform from which to say it, more people have taken my work seriously. And that has given me the confidence to expand the conversation my work has with its audience.”
Mosopa’s exhibition, entitled Transit, will run at the Lizamore & Associates gallery on 155 Jan Smuts Avenue Parkwood until 22 October.