Lekau Matsena


The work is inspired by our culture during ‘the struggle’ of our people. During that time, cultural practice was used to communicate, entertain and educate.

The avant-garde contributed heavily in defeating the system. Through jazz, literature, visual art and photography somehow we managed to mould our voice and identity.

From the boarding of taxis from downtown Alex or Tembisa to the Noord taxi rank, commuters would read ‘Drum’ magazine while listening to Dolly Rathebe or even Miriam Makeba or Paul Simon with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Later on after work, they’ll be attending a political gathering somewhere deep in Soweto, so the story went; Lilian Ngoyi would be sharing some knowledge where we managed to find a corner of refuge from the harsh realities of apartheid.

The art award provides an opportunity to pay tribute to these giants, who made it possible for us  to move and speak freely today, in democratic South Africa.

The artwork celebrates the change in Johannesburg’s street names to the names of these pioneers - who paved and cemented a cultural phenomenon which inspire us today.

Lekau Matsena - Artist Biography

Johannesburg based artist, Lekau Matsens (born 1986) works from his home in Tembisa.

He studied under Prince Dube's educational development programme at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The programme resulted in an exhibition, titled Confluence in 2005. He also completed a three year design foundation course at the Artist Proof Studio, specializing in printmaking, from 2008 to 2010. Currently, Matsena is studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Unisa.

The artist has participated in various group exhibitions, including Goodman gallery respect your right to protest? at Yuill Damaso Artists Studio in 2013. This exhibition was a respond in the handling of the Brett Murray's artwork, the Spear, pertaining freedom of speech and expression.

Matsena is a qualified facilitator and assessor within the EDTP and founder of an organization called Art.nexus.  The organization’s main focus is to develop the youth in Tembisa through the visual arts.