Art Interview: Balekane Legoabe – Collage Education, Or A Feel For Finesse

January 22, 2024




Balekane Legoabe, represented by EBONY/CURATED, will be exhibiting at Investec Cape Town Art Fair.



What sort of training have you received and how important do you think it is to seek training (in terms of learning first principles and refining technique)?

I received formal training in visual art during my high school years and in university. At the National School of the Arts, our creative disciplines were prioritised. With regards to my tertiary education, I studied Illustration and motion design. I had art history as a subject and took a couple of electives in traditional drawing. I don’t think I fall into the category of ‘self-taught’, but I also don’t think my formal training is as in-depth as someone who has a degree in fine art. In terms of importance, I see the value of technical skill, but I believe that refined creative intuition is a necessity, and by far outweighs technical skill.


What is your principal medium, and why did you choose it?

I’m currently exploring the mediums of ink and graphite on paper. I enjoy the malleable nature of paper. I used to work in a collage style, combining several mediums. As I  became more serious about art as a career, I dialled down a bit on the mediums. Mainly  because I was learning about the importance of the archivability of works. When you’re using several mediums, it’s sometimes hard to know how certain compounds will react and age over time. At the same time, I think it’s possible to make quality work using several mediums. I’m also trying to work at not seeing archivability as a limitation. I just think that it takes time and experience to figure out what does and doesn’t work. Even with my chosen mediums, I  still haven’t got it all figured out and am learning as I go. I also digitally create collage artworks on Photoshop that are then printed on archival paper.


Describe the techniques you use most? How complicated are your methods, and why is each step necessary?

Haha – I can’t reveal my secrets! What I will say is that while I’m making work, I have two giant signs in my mind that read “finesse” and “feeling”. Each artwork is an experiment and an opportunity to refine techniques for the next – that’s  working on finesse. The process is a dance between control and letting go. I use a lot of water when I’m inking my backgrounds, which means I don’t have a lot of control over how the ink will move, having  to surrender to how the medium chooses to navigate itself. At the same time, I am the master of the pencil when I’m drawing, inking, rendering and figuring out the placement for  my creatures in the composition – that is a practice in feeling.


What technological tools do you use in your work?

I create my digital collages on my computer. I use Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom drawing tablet. Most of the photographs I use in my collages are taken using my Canon 600D camera. I also occasionally take pictures using my iPhone.


Who is the single other artist whose style you most admire, and why?

I wish that I could choose more than one artist! I would have to say Ash Holmes, for the reason I mentioned in the first question. Her work exudes a sense of refined creative intuition. You can “feel” her paintings.


Galleries and other traditional means are only one way of marketing art. What do you believe are the most important other routes, and what is the most important insight you have gained in that area in your career?

When used correctly, social media is a great marketing tool. I enjoy how it allows you full  control over how you choose to present yourself and your work. Top of my list would have to be artist-run initiatives like ArtUnderTheBed, founded by Cape Town-based artist Vanessa Cowling – artists coming together, inviting groups and individuals from their personal and professional networks and working on a volunteer basis to sell one another’s works to these groups and individuals. It’s symbiotic, beautiful to watch, and a joy to be a part of.


Why do you create? What are your stated goals in producing art?

It is the thing that feels most right and natural to me. I just know that it’s what I’m meant to be  doing. To start with a blank piece of paper – nothing! – and end up with an artwork, something  beautiful, is a vivid reminder of the fact that we are all partakers in creation. I think that it’s such a privilege – I feel like a kid playing God. My goal is simply to connect with others on the deepest level.