The Portfolio: Bale Legoabe

I attended the National School of the Arts from 2010 – 2013. My main discipline was drama. During the course of my grade 9 year, I saw this drawing at a students’ exhibition that I thought was really cool. I started drawing from that moment on and my love for art started overtaking my love for drama. I showed my mom a folder with all my artwork in it and she wouldn’t let me switch from drama to art. She felt that we’d already invested so much into drama. It took a year for me to convince my parents, but finally, in 2012, my grade eleven year, I made the switch from drama to art.

I started studying at The Open Window Institute in 2014. I chose to specialise in illustration and then went on to add motion design when I was in second year. Initially it was stop motion-based, and as the course went on we started working on digital animation.

There are similarities between art and drama. They are both forms of emotional expression. I just like that you can communicate through a picture in illustration. It forces a different dialogue because people read different things into the illustration. People come from different backgrounds and they bring themselves into that image.

In my digital collage works I always use animals, plants, people and organic subject matter. Recently I’ve been taking photographs of buck and working with those in my artwork. I find them very beautiful from a design perspective; when they bend down to drink and when they stand in groups. I just like the aesthetics of that.

It’s meditative when you’re sitting down laying out an image. It feels like a puzzle. Over the years, my approach to composition has changed a little bit. I love how you can visually please or disturb someone just through composition.

A few years ago, my approach was more about putting things in order and presenting visually clean things. Now I am interested in disrupting that order, offsetting things a little bit and complicating composition.

There is usually no set formula to how an image forms for me. If it is a digital collage, it could be an image of a buck on the page or a line, or an emotion. Sometimes it is playing with a composition and seeing how those things go together or it could be a vaccilation between emotion and a well-composed image.

I have realised that these choices go with my experiences in life. My emotional experiences and my expression in art kind of go hand in hand for me. Difficult experiences are generally more complex to depict than happy things.

Working on Occupying the Fatuous State of Severity, for me, goes back to how art creates dialogue, especially among several artworks in communication with each other. Within a collective body of work, multiple sets of meaning can be created. It was interesting collaborating with people I didn’t know, across mediums. For example, Felix Laband is a musician, so it was interesting to see how expansive a topic can be. It was literally collaborating to learn.

I have two solo exhibitions coming up in the second half of the year. I am thinking of ideas around what those will be about and starting to create the work. In Cape Town I will exhibit digital collages and in Joburg I will exhibit traditional mixed media collages — all of them handmade.

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