At only 27 years old, Clement Mohale's art shows a maturity beyond his years. His work primarily depicts children navigating their lives within the sometimes harsh reality of modern-day Africa, as well as the beauty and diversity of the vast continent. This UK Black History Month, we discover what inspires Clement's work and what message he wants to portray to his viewers.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a South African contemporary artist and have been passionate about art from early childhood. I had the honour to be mentored by the late Ernest Ditshego at The African Art Centre where I learned basic skills and techniques. My work is bold, vibrant and emotive, and I use a variety of mediums such as charcoal, oil pastel and acrylic to convey my ideas, emotions and feelings.
My work is a reflection of my inner thoughts and the world I live in. It explores the diverse culture and beauty of the African continent, as well as its people. I aim to investigate the emotional, psychological and physical impact experienced by people in the quest for a better life. My work explores the idea of how socio-political and economic issues such as poverty, lack of access to education, lack of shelter and sanitation have affected the wellbeing and livelihood of ordinary people.
During 2020 and 2021, I made some great progress in my career:
Finalist for The Lockdown Collection Portfolio with Artist Proof Studio, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg
Finalist for The Green Recovery Portfolio project for climate change with Artist Proof Studio, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and The Canada Climate Law Initiative
Hosted solo exhibition 'The creative adult is the one who survived' represented by North-West University Gallery
In 2021, I showed at 'Shattered Ceilings', a group exhibition presented by The Art Foundation
I obtained a certificate of Contemporary Art Practice with CAP Institute under the mentorship of Professor Elfriede Dreyer. I am currently studying Printmaking at Artist Proof Studio in Houghton, Johannesburg.
Describe your art in three words.
Bold, vibrant, emotive.
What inspires you as an artist?
I am inspired by the daily lived experiences and challenges our communities are facing. The ability to witness the social, political and economic injustices within our hostile environment inspires me to investigate the problems in-depth and communicate more of my experiences, feelings and inner thoughts in the form of art. I intend to capture or recapture these experiences through my creative work and use them as a vehicle for change and advocate for the rights of the underprivileged or affected. I believe art should not merely be seen as a commodity but as a tool of communication.
Who's an artist you admire?
The artist I admire the most is the late Benon Lutaaya, because he was a great activist in nature and advocated for the rights of artists, especially the position of women in arts. He was the epitome of philanthropy; his values and beliefs to change the status quo is admired not only by me, but the world. Benon's work was mostly large-scale mixed media on canvas and the central point of his work was the ability to capture the emotions of his subjects using paper waste and other found material. In essence, the technique and style of his work is incredibly beautiful, thought-provoking and will always transcend space and time.
Have you faced any challenges through the course of your career?
Yes, as an artist I have faced many challenges, and this includes but is not limited to obtaining gallery representation, exhibitions and connecting with potential clients and/or art collectors. Being an artist comes with its hardships, but they have helped me to grow into the professional artist I am today. I use social media and other platforms as a powerful tool to market my work and connect with relevant clients, art collectors and galleries.
Do you have a message for readers regarding the UK’s Black History Month?
My message regarding the UK's Black History Month is that nobody chooses how they are born and we are all very much the same. The concept of race has become an endemic to the world and therefore we need to change our outlook of the world by questioning our beliefs and existence. I believe we all need to come to terms that the only race is the human race and thus will provide us with a sense of harmony and peace for the current and future generations to come. We must remember that fear is worse than pain, and humankind has a long history that needs to be embraced. If not, history shall judge us harshly on the missed opportunity to change the narrative.
Cover image via Clement Mohale