Baba Tjeko is a South African multi-disciplinary visual artist whose colour-filled graphic illustrations are helping to keep the disappearing art of Litema alive. Baba Tjeko’s artwork features bold geometric patterns depicting Basotho cultural symbols and soulful images of men and women whose faces bear the weight of triumph over adversity as they navigate the challenges of their day to day lives.
Litema are geometric designs created by the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa, and are part of a tradition where women would decorate the interior and exterior walls of a house once the men have finished building it. As with many cultural traditions the passage of time has seen fewer generations taking up the Litema art form leading to its decline. Litema murals typically depicted images from nature, such as field, animals, and plants things important to the survival and sustenance of a community.
Baba Tjeko’s call to pursue art as a career began a student when he discovered the works of South African artists such as Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba, Dumile Feni, and David Koloane. Although he wanted to study Fine Art he ended up studying Creative Multimedia, majoring in Advertising Design. This path undoubtedly influenced his graphic style. It was while doing research for his final paper during his studies that he learned about Litema art and discovered just how much how urbanisation and disinterest from younger generations was leading to the artform’s demise.
By using his work as a way to shine the light on the hidden stories of Africa’s diverse communities Baba Tjeko is giving a voice to marginalised people and highlighting their dignity, grace, and value to society.
For further information about Baba Tjeko visit: @baba_tjeko
[Image credits: The images shown belong to Baba Tjeko. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]