Painting his way through life

Mlungisi Mbele's work is mainly narrative.

NEWCASTLE – With passion and determination, local aspiring artist, Mlungisi Mbele, is making it his life’s journey to make a name for himself.

Read: Young artist at Busy Bee

Born and raised in Durban, he was always passionate about art while growing up, and went above and beyond to create compelling art works for school projects.

“My teachers always encouraged me and believed in me, which made me feel more positive towards my work.”

Mr Mbele found inspiration for his art in the diverse cultures he encountered while growing up in cosmopolitan Durban.

“I take what I experience and see in reality, and turn it into a painting. I believe an artist should speak the truth, and that is what I do through my art.”

Mr Mbele joined a Saturday art group at the Durban African Art Centre in 1998, where he attended numerous art classes and workshops. This was where he first exhibited and sold some of his work.

“Art collectors often visited these group exhibitions, so it was then that I realised I wanted to be a well-known artist.”

After meeting former Curator of Carnegie Art Gallery, Judy Jordan, last year, Mr Mbele relocated to Newcastle, because he believed his work would get more exposure.

However, he never anticipated just how hard it would be to make a living as an artist. Nevertheless, he never doubted that he would eventually taste success.

Also read: Is there a scam artist targeting Newcastle?

“This is a difficult career choice. You need to be well connected with the right people, attend every exhibition you possibly can, be patient, and most importantly, be realistic.”

Mr Mbele said he was fortunate to have had some of his his work exhibited at the Carnegie Art Gallery as part of a Heritage exhibition this year.

“I take what is happening in South Africa and sketch it. I have created beautiful paintings which tell the story of our history. I have also used childhood memories as inspiration.”

Mr Mbele said he always looked up to fellow artists such as Gabisile Nkosi and Langa Maqwa, as they had taught him valuable life lessons as well as new painting techniques.

However difficult it may be, Mr Mbele encourages all aspiring artists never to give up on their dreams or to ignore their passion for art.

“Do not do this line of work for the money. Do it for the love of art. Work hard, but never rush your work, and make sure your heart is in it every step of the way,” he concluded.

Zianne Leibrandt

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