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About The Artist

Artist Photo

ABSA Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award 2005

Lawrence Lemaoana was the 2005 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Prize winner who showcases photo-based mixed media works. His examination of the stereotypical male and clichéd notions of masculinity are challenged in his camp images of rugby players.

Concept and Explanation for Lawrence Lemaoana

The artist’s background of playing the game of rugby influences his work, looking closely at the stereotypical masculine figure. For reasons such as the history of our country, our social and economical positions in an ever changing world, Lemaoana was forced to question his own identity as a young black man. His realisation that the past always has a strong bearing on the future and that in the deconstruction of one kind of masculinity another different one is constructed lead him to carefully select fabrics that create a sense of irony in his work. This use of material is an attempt to subvert popular associations with the artist’s subject matter. Lemaoana aims to deconstruct the macho, masculine figure and construct his own figure.

In his work, Lemaoana tries to shift the energy of a negative experience by making his works colourful and rich. He has taken a light-hearted look at South African rugby by representing teams made up of the same player reproduced in an oversized pink kit against an idyllic landscape. He moves between the real world and the super real world where all is within his control. Hence, the construction of his alter ego – the pink rugby player. For Lemaoana, this alter ego breaks boundaries in that he does what no man can do, he can break the rules and regulations - “all men are equal but some are more equal than others” therefore playing with the complexities of inferiority.

The use of humour is a tool and a weapon. Although the subject is a serious one, elements of humour bring a flavour that is much needed in our times of the metro-sexual where the lines between masculinity and femininity are constantly being eroded and challenged. Idealism is another modern day issue that the artist attempts to grapple with. For example, we have preconceived notions about social positions of individuals, which is what Lemaoana aims to challenge head on in his work.

He has played much rugby at high school level. Lemaoana was highly motivated and extremely passionate about the sport , so much so that he was captain of his 1st team in matric, also having received numerous awards for involvement in the sport. He also played rugby for The Soweto Club and at festivals such as the Masakhane Games, the St Johns Easter Festival and participated in the St Stithians Touch Rugby Competition. His greatest achievement was being chosen to play at provincial level for the Gauteng Lions U/18 for the 2000 Craven Week.

Lemaoana realised that he had chosen a very difficult path and that much of what one “knows” is prescribed - seen through filters. The ideals associated with manhood are not fixed or static and as such the artist is questioning existing notions concerning manhood and constructing new ones. Lemaoana feels that his exploration of these ideas and his own identity are given better scope through the discourse of art.

Artist CV

Lawrence Lemaoana (SA 1982 - )

Education and Qualifications

  • 2001 - Matriculated Highlands North Boys High School
    Deputy Headboy
    First team rugby Captain
    Gauteng Lions U/18 rugby team 2000/ Craven Week
  • 2004 - National Diploma in Fine Arts, University of Johannesburg

    Solo Exhibitions


  • Red Cross Children’s Hospital Auction, Goodman Gallery , Cape Town, South Africa


  • Fortune Telling in Black, Red and White, Art Extra, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • FNB Johannesburg Art Fair, Art Extra booth, Johannesburg, South Africa


  • Positive Show, Gallery Demosniel 89, Paris, France
  • Players of Colour, Gallery Demosniel 89, Paris, France
  • Hierarchy of colour, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Players of Colours, National Tour of Alliances Francaises in major South African cities
  • Impossible Monsters, Art Extra, Johannesburg, South Africa


  • Players of Colour, Gordart Gallery, Johannesburg

    Group Exhibitions

    2020 – 2021

  • Sous le Fil, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France


  • Gather, in collaboration with SMAC Gallery, Cape town, South Africa
  • Matereality, Iziko National South African Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
  • La peur au Ventre, Jerome Poggi Gallery, Paris France


  • Yesterday is Today’s Memory, curated by Armelle Dakouo, Espace Commines, Paris, France
  • 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London, UK
  • 21st Anniversary Exhibition of the Ampersand Foundation Awards, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Bunka Kulcha, curated by Ashraf Jamal and Maria Fidel Regueiros, St Johns College, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • I was born a Foreigner, les Abattoirs Contemporary Art Program in the Occitan Region, Couvent des Minimes, Perpignan, France
  • 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Industria, New York, USA

    2018 – 2019

  • In This Imperfect Present Moment, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA


  • Ministry of Graphic Design, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial, Sharjah, UAE
  • Deviations, International Festival of Extraordinary Textiles, FITE, Bargoin Museum, Clermont Ferrand, France
  • 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Pioneer Works, New York, USA
  • Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa

    2017 – 2018

  • A Change in the Narrative, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa


  • 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London, UK
  • 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Pioneer Works, New York, USA
  • Art/ Afrique, le Nouvel Atelier, Being There, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France
  • Tous des Sang-mêlés, MAC VAL, Vitry sur Seine, France
  • Le Jour qui vient, Galerie des Galeries, Paris France


  • 1:54 African Contemporary Art Fair, Afronova, Somerset House, London, UK
  • The Art of Disruptions, IZIKO, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Art Textiles, The whitworth, Manchester, UK
  • Social Fabrics: African Textiles Today, William Morris Gallery, London, UK
  • 1:54 African Contemporary Art Fair, Afronova, Pioneer Works, New York, USA


  • 1:54 African Contemporary Art Fair, Afronova, Somerset House, London, UK
  • 1:54 African Contemporary Art Fair, Afronova, Pioneer Works, New York, USA


  • 1:54 African Contemporary Art Fair, Afronova, Somerset House, London, UK
  • Art in Embassies, Pretoria, South Africa


  • My Joburg, Kunsthalle, Dresden, Germany
  • My Joburg, La Maison Rouge, Paris, France
  • Some Views of Africa, Studio La Città, Verona, Italy


  • Me 3, Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa


  • (Re)constructions, Contemporary Art from South Africa, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
  • Synthetic Ritual, Pitzer Art Galleries, Claremont, USA


  • PEEKABOO – Current South Africa, Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
  • TXT artists investigating language, James Harris Gallery, Seattle, USA
  • Ampersand – A Dialogue of Contemporary Art from South Africa & the Daimler Art Collection, Daimler contemporary, Berlin, Germany
  • ATOPIA – Art and the City in the 21st Century, CCCB, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain


  • Dystopia, Museum Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Adding Substractions, Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Dystopia, Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Self/Not-self, Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Beauty and Pleasure South African Contemporary Art, Stenersenmuseet, Oslo, Norway


  • I Love Jozi, Reunion Island


  • Positive: Pulse Art Show, Hall of Treasures, Sun City Sun International, South Africa


  • 40 x 40 x 40, Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, Oudtshoorn, South Africa
  • Volksblad Festival,University Gallery, Bloemfontein, South Africa
  • Aardklop Festival, Snowflake, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Waste Art Exhibition, Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg, South Africa


  • The David Exhibition (group show) - Michaelangelo Towers, Sandton, JHB - November 2005 - Collabrative work with Mary Sibande


  • 2005 - ABSA L’ Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award – 3 months residency at the Cite des Arts International, Paris, France

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