Polokwane artist completes inaugural portrait of UP Vice-Chancellor Prof Tawana Kupe

Posted on August 15, 2022

The University of Pretoria (UP) Museums has welcomed the completion of the inaugural portrait of UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe. The oil-on-canvas portrait was commissioned by UP’s Art Committee, chaired by Professor Carolina Koornhof, and Polokwane-born artist Malose Pete was selected to create the work.

Portraits of successive vice-chancellors form part of UP’s institutional memory and are held in its art collection by the UP Museums. The Vice-Chancellor’s portrait is traditionally exhibited in the lower foyer of the Administration Building on the Hatfield Campus, the location of the UP Rectorate and Executive.

“I am honoured to be included in this collection; a group of people who have led and guided this storied institution through decades of turbulent waters, to create a leading university on our continent,” Prof Kupe said. “I am delighted with the portrait and very impressed by the work of this young artist.”

An oil-on-canvas portrait of University of a seated Pretoria Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe  wearing a grey suit and blue and red academic robes.

In the portrait, artist Malose Pete captures UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Tawana Kupe’s astute professionalism, virtue and stylish dress sense.

Pete was born in Polokwane, Limpopo, in 1989 and grew up in the rural area of Ga-Mahoai. He completed a B-Tech degree majoring in painting and sculpture at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2011. His art has featured widely in the South African creative arts industry, including in the 2011 L’Atelier Art Competition, the PPC Young Concrete Sculptors Awards in 2012 and the Sasol New Signatures Competition. In 2018 he served on the regional judging panel for the Polokwane Sasol Signatures National Art Competition.

He has held several group and solo exhibitions in venues ranging from Pretoria’s Trent Gallery to the Pretoria Arts Association and the IS Gallery in Stellenbosch, outside Cape Town. In 2019 his works were part of the Sanlam Portrait Awards, and some of his most recognised portraitures include the figure of Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, the second president of the African National Congress, for the National Heritage Monument at Century City in Cape Town. Pete also lectures part-time at the TUT Fine and Applied Arts Department.

In Pete’s portrait of Prof Kupe, although the Vice-Chancellor is formally robed, the artist captures Prof Kupe’s astute professionalism, virtue and stylish dress sense.

UP Museums Collections Curator Gerard de Kamper says it’s important to the University to capture in art form successive vice-chancellors’ leadership. “With each VC’s immense contribution, leadership and initiative, their personage exemplifies, grows and develops the University of Pretoria’s various legacies.”

De Kamper explains that UP's art portraiture collection is inspired by the efforts of all former vice-chancellors and rectors, chancellors and faculty deans. “It was only in 1974 that Professor AN Pelzer, the Registrar of Academic Affairs, recommended the collection of portraiture of former vice-chancellors and rectors, chancellors, chairs of councils, and deans to build a foundation and preserve the institutional history of leadership for the UP art collection.”

Prof Kupe expressed his appreciation for the work of everyone involved. “I thank and congratulate Malose Pete, the UP Arts Committee, and the UP Museums for their work on this project of capturing institutional memory in artistic ways that will hopefully connect with future generations.”

Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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