Leveraging Botswana’s abstract art market

December 7, 2020

 ‘Maragaraga’ is a Tswana term used to define a state of dire confusion; it is synonymous with an amateur’s approach that results in a mediocre outcome. Most Batswana are of the native inclination that abstract art is ‘maragaraga.’ Often tossed around by non-artistic novelties, this referral is detrimental to the organic growth of the local abstract art market.

An effective approach can be reinforced to exonerate the local abstract art market. The removal of obscurity formed by Realism art, allows abstract art to take a front row. Accommodating abstract art in Botswana will involve a shift from this monolithic reasoning.

The brief history of Abstract Art

The history and development of Abstraction precede Kandinsky’s introductory concept of breaking all the rules of Realism. Abstraction is about creating art that infiltrates a sense of connectivity with the spectator or audience. It is about inciting an aura of ‘art for the sake of art.’ Abstraction essentially entails creating an art composition independent of visual representation [1] or actual objects of reference and visual reality.

Abstract art aims to communicate and evoke intended feelings, experiences, and a sense of connection to its audience. The generic approach to abstraction makes it expansive and widely interesting.  Some forms of abstraction can lean towards a singular element to achieve the desired effect, for instance, Mondrian used the reduction method to paint the main elements on different trees[2]. Cubism is a developmental result of abstraction, where Picasso uses geometric forms non-representational to reality as the focal point.

A Decipher on Abstract Art

Seemingly non-substantial and trivial to the ordinary eye, a typically Jackson Pollock abstract painting is worth millions. The household name underpins abstraction through abject spontaneity emphasizing space, dimension, color, texture, and crazed effects.

Any visual artist appreciates the basic elements that make up the composition of a complete work of art. In abstraction, the idea is not central to a real object of tangible and visual representation. Art elements are the focal point for creating the desired artwork and incite a certain feeling. Its unconventional use of and intentional manipulation of these elements to evoke certain feelings for the spectator.

Ideally, the objective is to evoke strong emotional attachments; of resonance, nostalgia, vulnerability, familiarity, or indifference. The artist achieves this by using methods of abstraction which may include; minimalism, reduction, or simplification; where only the basic art elements remain for emphasis, and to create an effect, other methods can also be used [3][4]. Ultimately, the audience’s sense of ownership for the artwork is the artist’s aim.

Avant-garde is an exciting art concept that appreciates artworks for their unorthodox aesthetic value. Often linked with the abstraction creation process, understanding ‘avant-garde’ ignites an appreciation for the craft and can be the prescription for ‘maragaraga’ perception. The probing leaves all else to subjectivity and individual interpretation similar to the intended purpose of abstraction.

Betting on the Local Market

Abstract appreciation in Botswana is commonly uncommon in all precepts. The broad understanding of abstract art by locals will ensure that it is appreciated.A firm grasping of the composition of abstraction enables a comprehensive stance; on its uses and allows for the leverage on market dynamics therein.

To shift from the maragaraga art mindset, a native culture of abstract art appreciation should be crafted. The regeneration of the abstract art market is a cause of economic stimulation and diversity. Art is valuable, the craft continues to put bread on the table for many.  The world of contemporary art is drifting toward abstract art. Abstract arts are a global sentiment of monetary empowerment. This market loophole can achieve great milestones towards the development of local art.

Local artists can leverage as trendsetters and set a local barometer that creates a new local ambiance for abstract art. In part, art is about storytelling. Local artists can narrate those lived experiences and stories through abstraction. The local abstract revolution recourse will hopefully alter the indigenous ‘maragaraga’ perception.

The Practical Application of Abstraction in everyday life

Many of real life’s creations are a result of a borrowed concept from abstraction. An abstract motif is used to inspire a certain motivation or influence a cause. The outline of textures, form, and choice of colors evokes personal convictions. Patterns created on abstracts are used in fabric designs, fine threading, or tie-and-dye. The remnants used on architectural development for industrial and interior designs; on home aesthetics like wall hangings, decor on pottery & basketry, floor tiles, ceiling designs, and landscaping. Wherein, subliminal motifs on legal tenders can communicate currency ideals for finance. Subliminal use extends to topography and maps, illustrators, PC game boards, and graphic designs.

Technology is the pathway for abstract art enhancement. It has played a huge part in the development of its conceptual ideas; in background chromatic used in music, photography, web design. With the developments in science & medicine, chromo-therapy in psychology is used for color blind people. Abstraction expresses what is real from our unseen soul. Above and beyond, abstraction is the basis point for realism.


  1. Tate UK (n.d). Term. Find at https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-art#:~:text=Abstract%20art%20is%20art%20that,Wassily%20Kandinsky
  2. Dean, R (2019. Piet Mondrian’s Tree Paintings. Find at https://medium.com/signifier/piet-mondrians-tree-paintings-cef4ccac881
  3.  SurajFineArts. Abstract Painting: Different tools & techniques-Demonstration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHvQgy_mCc0
  4. Mgidi, M. (2020). Wall Abstraction Demonstration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfhLpFL2yWc

Read more on Wassily Kandinsky: https://www.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2014/december/16/how-kandinsky-helped-create-abstract-art/

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