Exploring the Spirituality in Art with Letso Leipego
I am an Artist. I have always been one. During my teenage years, I remember I was so curious with color, texture, lines and shapes, I would look at things and interpret them differently, that’s means imagining the unseen and give form to the new through those elements. That’s how I discovered my calling for Arts, the process of art making was a path of discovery for my feelings and expression. I am now grown as an artist and am more in tune and comfortable with my artistic spiritual side, I now feel complete when creating. The process has helped me to be okay with asking questions. How I look and interpret things is totally different from a normal eye, paying attention to small details has become part of me, I don’t take things for granted, always captivated in knowing how and why was it made like that.
My focus of expressing is no longer about the finished product but the process and the involvement to get to the final stage, the medium has become secondary to the creation. It is now on the power and process of symbolic expression in any of my creations for healing and integration. As an artist, my best creations come from the deepest places in my heart and soul that, the need for me to engage more with the artwork and the viewer, I realize is not how good the artwork is, but about how strong and engaging it is to challenge the next person’s emotions. My engagement in arts is a spiritual honoring of cultivating a relationship to mystery and freedom to reclaim my feelings, voice, and truth to give meaningful expression to my values, principles, and ideas. when creating artwork from a spiritual perspective , there is no critique or criticism is only the process of art and the feeling of desire to shape our lives.
Paying attention to the making of art I have begin to notice mixtures of emotion with myself, feelings of resistance, joy and sadness all of which are food to our spiritual growth, this spiritual practice has taught me how to discipline myself to make time for my relationship with the sacred or depth dimension. We live in a world that demands we do things in a hurry, move faster, produce, worship speed and efficiency, it can be a real challenge to pause and find space and yet for me practicing Art has given me the ability to listen to the depths of experience that call me beyond myself in search of greater meaning in my life.
Chasing My Past – Letso Leipego
“This project talks about my early childhood life in the village. My mother attends a church called Siloame Apostle Church in Zion, which she joined in 1992, that was a year after I was born. During my childhood, for as long as I could remember, my mother would take me to this church every Sunday. At the time, I was trying to make sense of my environment – this memory about my life is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. Growing up in the city made me oblivious to certain aspects of my life during childhood days in the village. As I became an adult, certain questions were lingering in my mind regarding my religious beliefs: a little voice in my head kept telling me go to village and search for answers.”
“After many years without visiting my village due to family matters, one day I make a visit to my relatives and friends there. To my disbelief I found that the place has changed. As I explored my surroundings, I was overwhelmed with childhood memories, I got flashbacks of myself playing and running around with friends and relatives. Ever since my visit, a certain childhood memory kept flashing in my mind unexpectedly: this was a religious ritual which was performed after my grandmother’s funeral, with the purpose of cleansing and restoration. For this occasion a sacrifice was made with a cow. A cow was killed and before all its blood drained, at its last moment, we all had to place our hands as a family on the body of the cow, while pastors prayed in the background, declaring the sacrifice. All the meat was eaten within the yard and the leftovers were buried in one of the corners of the yard.”
“This project was birthed by my desire in searching for the significance behind the ritual, its linkage to my current religious identity and discovering answers to questions which have gone unanswered for so long. These pictures portray stories of my childhood journey, the journey of my freedom.”
“This series showcases elements of African Hybrid religion mixed with African Christianity and dynamic culture, hence why some of my pictures have a live chicken (animal) for religious sacrificial purposes, candle for illumination and symbolism, African drums for praise and worship. The actual setup for this project is a real church to convey cultural architectural scenery.”Letso Leipego’s photography is founded in a curiosity around light: an emphasis on contrast, and a highly stylized manipulation of light and shadow. This playful illumination (or its reverse) evokes the artist’s motivation for creating the work: Leipego “makes pictures that call attention to things that the observer tends to overlook”. His curiosity in light and darkness extends to a curiosity about people living “on the edge of mainstream society”, those whose stories and histories are seldom illuminated with the same intensity as is present in his striking photographs. Preferring to photograph people “in their own environments”, Leipego’s photographs skirt a fine line between ethnographic documentation and stylized portraiture. Through tricks of light and innovative composition strategies, he brings a revelatory tone to a style of ethnographic photography that has often been marred by a shadowy legacy. Leipego is represented by Guns & Rain.