It’s a blazing hot Saturday as I step into Thibedi Nthwesane Kautlwale’s art studio in Mamelodi, Tshwane/Pretoria. He seems to be working on three pieces at the same time: A strikingly beautiful couch, a painting and one of his signature neckpieces which he produces under his art brand RoyalStaff Royal (https://web.facebook.com/royalstaff.royal). In the background are the serenading sounds of DJ SillyBean, one of Pretoria’s most loved DJs, he offers me an ice-cold beer and a seat: “Brayaka! Give me a second, just finishing off this piece for a client Ina Snyman – we have made it to the December edition of GIA Glamour Magazine (https://giaglamourmagazine.com/)”.
Looking around this talented creative’s studio, I see a familiar pattern on all his works be it a painting, neckpiece, customised shoes, bed/couch designs, t-shirt prints etc. He calls it the “Royal Touch” which has silhouettes of the African continent, music notes/vinyl, solar shapes, heart shape and a line detail that one could mistake for muscle fibres that contour and branch out into unpredictable directions – as if communicating an ancient secret language.
His work is indeed spiritual, originally from Moruleng, Rustenburg, North West – Nthwesane has made Tshwane his home for a few years now, and is toying with the idea of returning to his hometown where it all began: “My King, home is calling me – I have a feeling the quality of my work will improve significantly if I can connect with my spirituality properly you know.” In a sudden switch of topic he says: “Ekse I have a gift for you!” as he points me to a drawer with numerous neckpieces, which I had assumed are all orders for his clients: “You see my brother, for me producing art is a spiritual dance or a cosmic channelling of some sorts – once the spirit takes over I am just an instrument, so sometimes I create without knowing where a piece will end up. The same spirit says I must ask you to choose a piece as a thank you for featuring us on the Consciousness Magazine! You see I have been following your site for years now, you are doing brilliant work for our African people my brother!”
We were honoured to have received the neckpiece which we aptly named Mabona “The seer” funny enough as I entered the studio that very piece caught my eye and now it’s mine. Mr Kautlwale’s work is a combination of creativity, meticulous craftsmanship and deep spirituality. This is evident in the emotions the pieces invoke in the person wearing it and the reaction from people one comes across whilst wearing it. The neckpiece also doubles up as functional art when mounted on a wall for example.
Why Mabona “The seer”? If you look carefully you will see the meticulous beadwork resembles a thousand eyes looking in all directions, always watching and aware of one’s surroundings – a spiritual guard. We are humbled and grateful to Mr Kautlwale for gifting us such a visually and spiritually impactful work of art.
A few beers and smokes later, Nthwesane had to bid us farewell as he had to drop off some pieces to his clients. Below are some pictures of Mr. Kautlwale’s work: