Nobody can complain that the art works of Stephen Bekker Nyembe (Fana) are not attractive. His works are marvellous and beautiful. And his art has become his main source of income.
Nyembe started studying art at Reamohetswe High School, Section E, Botshabelo, near Bloemfontein, in 2012. “I was lucky enough to be among a group of students who were taught art by an experienced art teacher, Thabo Joel Mogotloane. He taught us everything about drawing, ceramics, painting and printing. We were his students for five months. I must say, at first it was not easy to do art.”
“I used to practise very hard daily, and after five months I had gained enough experience as an artist.”
“My teacher was very excited about my progress as an artist, and I remember he told me that one day I would be a famous artist in Botshabelo, the Free State and in South Africa. Thabo Joel Mogotloane is my role model,” says Nyembe.
Mogotloane says he remembers those first lessons very well. “A lot of those around us didn’t believe in the project, but as the Chinese always say, ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’. Keep walking, the journey is still far from over. Patience, passion, prosperity… remember the 3P’s. We’ve cracked realism and I think you should start exploring abstract art, you know, just challenge yourself to draw what is in/on your mind. Strive for self-expression, you know, do what the camera can’t do. I am impressed by your progress, so, Nyembe, hunt success in the world of art.”
“Fana” who hails from Section L in Botshabelo, started taking his art seriously in 2013. “I used to visit a number of schools in Botshabelo where I shared my skills with art teachers and learners from many primary schools in 2013.
The principals from some of the schools started giving me part-time jobs to do art at their schools during functions like graduation parties, seminars and during their workshops, and I used to earn extra money, which I saved to further my studies,” he recalls.
Nyembe joined the Motheo FET College in Bloemfontein where he studied N6 in 2014. “While I was at Motheo FET College I did a course in art. My art lecturer was Louie Holtzhauzen. He taught us how to paint and encouraged us to read more about portraits and landscapes from art books available from the libraries. Both experiences, to be a student of Thabo Joel Mogotloane and Louie Holtzhauzen, have been very useful to me as an artist. The people who know me as an artist in Section L in Botshabelo, started bringing me their individual photos, that of boyfriends, girlfriends, families, relatives and friends to do portraits and landscapes for them. The response was very positive.”
Nyembe settled in Mangaung in March 2016. Early in April 2016 he received a call from the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality. An official invited him to showcase his talent as an artist during the Bloem Show earlier this year. “During the ten days that I participated at the stall of the metro, I exhibited about five portraits and landscapes. Many visitors to the Bloem Show flocked to my exhibition, including Ace Magashule, premier of the Free State. Some of these visitors brought their photos whereupon I started painting their portraits. Thanks to the Metro I was given a great platform to market myself as an artist.
“Mondays to Saturdays are my busiest days to paint portraits of my clients. I always try to do my best for all my clients. At the end of the day, my clients pay me money and I make a living through art. Since I left Botshabelo in 2016 and settled at Chris Hani location in Mangaung, the news spread that an experienced artist had arrived at the location and I have gained many customers. With the money I make from art, I buy what I need and save the rest so that I can further my studies in art,” Nyembe says.
According to him, every house has a flower. “The flower is like every child in our house who has a God-given talent as a singer, artist, cartoonist or speaker. If you are a parent and you discover that your child is gifted, try to help him/her reach his/her dream to be a star.” – Flaxman Qoopane