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Pako Lesejane redefining photography

Publishing Date : 10 July, 2018


Pako Lesejane abandoned his childhood dream of becoming a pilot; rather opting to live behind the lens, taking landscape pictures with the hope of capturing emotions of many―this is a choice he stands proud of to this day.

This past week, Lesejane staged his first solo exhibition themed “Photography Redefined” at Thapong Visual Arts Centre in Gaborone. The exhibition featured 20 of his photographs that he collected over the years with some having been photographed over a decade ago.  But there is a twist, of course. Lesejane says he has prepared the 20 photographs using different techniques such as 3D hand photomontage, lift and transfer using wax paper and hand sanitizer, hand painting and glass overlay on both digital photographs and film photographs.

“I have been on several occasions asked what fine art photography is and why I took this road less travelled,” he says. According to him Fine Art Photography has grown over the years even though for many it is a headache because you don’t get the results immediately after the long process of just working on a single piece. “Sometimes one even tries using different chemicals like hand sanitizer instead of water like on a photograph titled ‘Baobab Leathery Feel’ which you will see tonight in the gallery.”

Lesejane says many photographers have taken a different route of portraiture; wedding photography, documentary and fashion as these genres are quick on cash as they need the money to get through the day as compared to what he does. The term “Fine Art Photography” actually has no universal agreed meaning or definition. The idea behind the genre underlies in the criteria that distinguishes fine art photography from other fields of photography, which are more about the recording of a subject or scene as it appears. A fine art photograph is distinguished by not recording a scene or subject exactly as it exists in realistic rendition.

Lesejane says his aim is towards producing a more personal, evocative impression. “Like in my works of fine art photography, I have photographed a subject, printed the photograph and after that using acrylic paint, water colour paint, sugar overlays and chemicals like turpentine, thinners and at some point even burning or tearing some parts of the photograph in accordance with my creative vision. So it is more about what the photographer sees than what the camera sees. A camera is basically one more tool to help create a work of art to help reveal the vision of the artist.”

On some landscapes Lesejane has used a Neutral Density Filter to slow down the exposure as well as to control highlights and direct the light in what he wanted viewers to see when they first look at the art piece. Influential American photographer, Edward Weston who lived from 1886- 1958 once said, “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” According to Lesejane this is one more reason why he decided to go off the beaten track with photography.
“I hope you will find these techniques and skills used very interesting and as part of the new art in the world of photography here in Botswana.”



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