Elegant Fuel’s proud and colourful connection with George Mokwena began in 2020 when he posted a picture on his Twitter page of a painting he had done of an Elegant Fuel petrol station. The post quickly gained momentum and soon there was stiff competition to buy the beautiful artwork. It is now on display at the Elegant Fuel Lephalale station.
At the start of 2021, Elegant assisted “George, our painter” to enrol for a three-year diploma in printmaking at the Artist Proof Studio in Houghton, Johannesburg. In addition to paying his tuition and art-supply costs for the duration, we are also covering his accommodation in Johannesburg and providing him with a stipend for living expenses.
We caught up with him recently to find out how he found the first year. George is an expressive and creative painter, but a man of few words. His description of the year is succinct: short, challenging, fruitful, interesting, and stressful.
A new skill that he is really excited about adding to his palette is printmaking, which he hopes will give him a broader scope for artistic experimentation. He captured his beloved grandmother on canvas and he is immensely proud of this particular work, especially because it gives her so much joy.
George loves his new environment and says most of his time is spent learning new techniques to make his artwork conceptual or unique. He adds that the course is incredibly practical and hands-on, including touching on aspects such as how to run your own studio. This is his ultimate dream – to have a studio and gallery in his hometown of Lephalale, Limpopo, to guide and inspire upcoming artists in the area.
George gets his inspiration from far and wide. He cites Leonardo da Vinci as one of his main inspirations and points to pop art – which depicts the visual world in a recognisable way – as another. It is therefore no surprise to learn that vibrant and strong colours such as orange, red and the famous Elegant blue-and-yellow are his favourite colours and dominate much of his artistic output. His favourite mediums are pencils and oil paint because he loves the freedom they give him to express himself. And when he has a quiet moment, he listens to Eminem to conjure up some new ideas he can put on an empty canvas.
On what life is like in Johannesburg, he says, “It is a city alive with exciting opportunities! I am looking forward to another year to further improve my skills and create new work this year.”
Watch this space for more about George – he’s an “Elegant” painter, and we’re walking this journey with him!