Thursday, February 27, 2014


Mhlonishwa Chiliza was born in 1990 in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu –Natal South Coast.                       
He is a Durban based artist who graduated in Fine Arts at the Durban University of Technology and obtained his National Diploma in Fine Art in 2013.
In 2009 he completed his foundation course in Fine Art at DUT: this was significant to his development as an artist since art as a subject was not offered at the school he attended.

In 2011 while in his second year of studying Fine Art, he came first in the Visual Art competition in the National Creative Arts Youth Festival which was held at the Durban University of Technology. In that year he also received awards from Bishop Merchandising and Art Spectrum for being the best student in the Fine Art Diploma II course.
In 1912 Chiliza tutored Art Theory 1 students and in this position he demonstrated his skills in leadership and empathy in his role as a teacher. He was a top artist among the one hundred finalists in the Sasol New Signatures competition organized for emerging artists.
He majored in painting and sculpture: the majority of his works focus on the realities that overwhelm people in the lower class who have not reached their goals. His work depicts the resilience of these people in
continuing to dream in spite of their current situations.
In 2012 he gained four distinctions (the highest aggregate) in his final year of the National Diploma and received four awards including the Sam Newtown Fine Art Trophy Award (1) for the best overall result in the National Diploma. In his diploma exhibition he produced a body of exceptional work which investigated issues of class and power through an installation of sculpture, mixed media, and charcoal drawings. These works resulted in his being nominated for the prestigious Emma Smith Art Scholarship Award for 2013.
He has shown his work on a number of exhibitions: Amazing Starts (2001 DUT Steve Biko Art Gallery), Three Boys and a Girl (2012 The Collective Art Gallery), Art and Science Collaboration (2012 artSpace durban), Sasol New Signatures (2012 Pretoria Art Museum) and Art in the Park (2012 Newcastle), KZN.
His commissions include murals he created in 2009 for two Durban Institutions: the Durban Children’s Home at Sawas House and the revamped Paediatric ward for children with cancer at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital.
This is what he writes about his art: 
My work is a critical analysis of the people of the lower class. Most
people are living another life they did not choose because they could
not accomplish dreams that they had initially. I am exploring the
realities that overwhelm people who have not reached their goals. I
interviewed people and through these one on one discussions they
explained why they haven’t achieved anything in life. By analyzing
their issues, I discovered that they did not have the right
education, proper skills and self motivation. My work depicts their
resilience to continue dreaming despite their current situations.
In my work I depict people of the lower class engaging with
objects that are metaphors for the upper class. These metaphors
symbolize the aspirations of the lower class.
Technically I am influenced by the South African artist William
Kentridge, particularly in his sensitive use of charcoal as a
medium. And I also like to experiment with the mixed media of
charcoal, chalk and bitumen.
Conceptually I look up to Kay Hassan and the majority of his work
[which] focuses on contemporary South African life and the effects of poverty
on our society. In his works he uses three specific mediums
namely watercolors, collage or installation-based compositions.
I use figures of workers who [who re] present people of the lower class. I
juxtapose these figures with objects like microphones, podiums and
executive leather chairs to portray the upper class. With these I am
creating a dialogue because it talks about the power of wealth that will
always exist in our society.
I am fascinated by found objects, and try to incorporate these [as an intrinsic] part of the message. My overall style is to use objects
as metaphors, which speak to the viewer.
I will continue to develop by working on my concept learning from
other artists who help influence my work. I am keen to learn more
about everything that this fraternity has to offer.

(1) Sam Newton was the owner of Sam Newton’s Amusement Park which was situated opposite North Beach Durban in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an art collector and philanthropist who donated a number of paintings by Durban artists to the Durban Art Gallery.