Born in Gaborone Botswana in 1991, Letso Leipego’s photography of rural life in Botswana is inspired by curiosity – something he says he inherited from his grandfather, who also features in many of his photographs. Letso is inquisitive about light: his work emphasises contrast, and a stylized manipulation of light and shadow. This playful illumination evokes the artist’s motivation for creating the work: Letso “makes pictures that call attention to things that the observer tends to overlook”. His interest in light and darkness extends to a curiosity about people living beyond mainstream urban society, whose stories and histories are seldom illuminated with the same intensity as in his striking photographs.
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Over a period of several years, Leipego has photographed all his subjects in their own environments, usually rural settings, both at home and at work. The influence of his experience as a fashion and commercial photographer is evident. The images, however, like the characters they introduce, are layered with hidden qualities and references. It is this notion of revelation that is so central to Letso’s work: through tricks of light and innovative composition strategies, he brings a revelatory tone to a style of ethnographic photography that has often been marred by a shadowy legacy.
Trained as a photographer and digital printer, Leipego has worked as both artist and technician, with the latter building his strong technical knowledge. After completing an Associate Degree in Advertising from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Letso undertook a full-time digital printing apprenticeship at Photo Lab, Gaborone. In 2017 he was shortlisted for the Thapong Visual Artist of the Year Award in Gaborone. He is currently completing the Artist Boot Camp professional practice course in Johannesburg at the Bag Factory, with Art Source SA, and will have a solo exhibition with Guns & Rain in August 2018.