Local visual artist Mondli Mbhele wins Sasol New Signatures 2022 art competition

It is an isiZulu expression, which means “history repeats itself”. He discusses the inspiration behind his award-winning piece.

Tell us about your artistic journey until you entered Sasol New Signatures 2022.

I have been working for six years with a collective of young artists based in Durban that promotes hard work and solidarity among other artists – the Amososha art movement. During Covid 19 I built my studio in my home at Cato Manor. I worked in my studio, creating a body of work because, as a full-time practicing artist, it is essential for me to create.

Why did you create the piece you submitted?

This submitted work is inspired by South African historical events that share ideas with events that have occurred over 28 years of democracy in South Africa. This artwork was inspired by Sharpeville’s March 21, 1960 anti-pass law event and the 2020 Covid19 events/laws regarding vaccination cards and face masks. I saw that both share the same ideas in terms of accessibility.

Your favorite mediums are?

I use fabric collage as a means of expression, because I’m inspired by how fabric can be used in creating clothing for different groups and ages of people, and I’ve also realized similarities that the fabric shares with our daily life events in the perspective of covering our body and breaking or raising our confidence to be able to face a new day and also as a symbol of recognition or direction for example uniforms of doctors, policemen, cleaners, etc In my work I also use scraps that I collect from fashion designers around Durban. By collecting these scraps, I realized that the fabrics have a gradation of value, value and qualities. But when these scraps of fabric are discarded, they share the same state of vulnerability. I recycle these scraps and create new dialogue that will have the chance to be enjoyed and get a sense of its own purpose and voice rather than thrown away.

When people see your work, what response do you hope to create?

Most people are amazed by my work. Many of them think it’s a painting until they get close to my works, then they get a different perspective when they realize it’s a fabric collage. Their positive responses always inspire me to create more. The reaction I always hope for is to create work that will have depth and resonate both technically and conceptually.

What are you currently working on?

The artwork I submitted for this competition is part of a series called Umlando uyaziphinda. It’s an isiZulu saying that history repeats itself. The series is made up of 13 large works – seven of these works measure 2mx 1m and three of these works measure 5mx1.90m. Some work is complete, and some work in progress. My next step as an artist is to be able to create new links with national and international galleries through art competitions, art fairs and art residencies.

Which South African artists do you admire and why?

George Pemba (1912-2001) Due to his subject matter including portraits of individuals and groups, landscapes, references to religious subjects and commentary on political and social circumstances, as well as the way he focused on depicting the people and their lives in New Brighton where he spent most of his life.

Mondli walks away with a cash prize of R100,000 and the chance to have a solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2023.

Details: www.sasolsignatures.co.za

About Bernice D. Brewer

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