Monday, February 2, 2015

The African Art Centre shares three artists to watch:

Wonder Mbambo was born in KwaNgcolosi in Durban in 1989 and enjoyed painting and drawing from a very young age. A turning point for the young man came about at the age of 13 when he saw an original work of art for the first time. Up until then, he considered art-making as a mere hobby and something to pass the time with.
After completing high school Wonder moved to the Mayville Township, situated on the outskirts of Durban and in 2010, he enrolled for Art Classes offered by the BAT Centre. Through these classes he was introduced to a new environment bustling with creativity. Here, the opportunity to interact with other practising artists from Durban, visits to art galleries and exhibitions broadened his understanding of art and encouraged him to pursue art as a career. Unfortunately, due to financial restrictions Wonder was unable to enroll for formal Fine Art tuition at tertiary level.
In 2011, he was accepted to take part in the Velobala Art Classes, an African Art Centre outreach programme initiated in 1994, which introduced him to the profession of visual art making and the history and practice of the profession. Wonder took advantage of the year long course by performing exceedingly well, resulting in his being selected for the Velobala Mentorship Programme, where he was tutored by well known artist and lecturer at the Durban University of Technology, Themba Shibase.
Wonder is a young and highly motivated artist who expresses himself through the medium of charcoal and chalk pastel on paper. His intriguing figurative drawings are executed in a unique style which sets him apart from many young up and coming artists in Durban. He continues to produce work from his studio in Durban and has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Durban and in Johannesburg.
In 2010 he was awarded with the BAT Centre Award for best performing student.

Wonder Mbambo at DUT:
As part of its external engagement with the African Art Centre (AAC), the DUT Department of Fine Art and Jewellery Design launched the Velobala Mentorship Programme, a six-month training course for artists. To mark the end of the mentorship programme which began in April 2012 the Department of Fine Art and Jewellery Design exhibited the works of the four mentees at the DUT Art Gallery, Steve Biko Campus, from 11 to 19 October 2012.
The work which went on exhibition featured class assessments of the mentees from the beginning of the programme as well as their conceptual projects.
The mentorship programme developed as a result of DUT’s longstanding relationship with the African Art Centre which is a Durban-based organisationthat plays a pivotal role in promoting and training black artists and craftspeople in South Africa.
For a number of years, the DUT City Campus has been the base for one of the organisation’s many projects; the free Saturday classes which are aimed at teaching aspirant artists. The three-year course is a concrete foundation that develops the artists’ craft whilst honing them for art courses in higher education institutions and preparing them for the industry.
Seeing the vast talent of some of the artists, the Fine Art and Jewellery Design Department, in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and the AAC, started the Velobala Mentorship Programme, an initiative geared towards catalysing the careers of advanced students of the AAC. DUT Lecturer in the Fine Art and Jewellery Design Department, Themba Shibase, was appointed to facilitate the mentorship programme.
The assessments given to the mentees were all centred around life. “The idea behind the many hours of drawing from life was to emphasise the view that artists should be people with a high degree of observing their environments whether social, political, economic, environmental or personal. And that artists are no longer just those people who live in the solitude of their studios and paint their uncontested ideas of the world," said Shibase.
Wonder Mbambo, one of the mentees said art is practically his life. Before enrolling with the AAC, Mbambo had various stints which included a short course for artists, teaching drawing and even operating his own art studio, all at the Bat Centre, Victoria Embankment, Durban.
“This mentorship programme has been very helpful”
Mbambo said, adding that it had helped him understand the theoretical side of art and has seen him grow as a conceptual artist. He alsorealised that art is not just about one’s skill but how one nurtures that skill and brings a message to one’s work.
His conceptual work featured a collection of artworks that were painted around the theme of stick fighting. The theme was inspired by the transformation of the male species. His work looks at the changes in the way men are brought up. “In the Zulu culture, things like cow herding and stick fighting mould one to be a man or to have that personage. The practice of stick fighting teaches one to understand body language. It brings communities together. It is also a game of pride; it’s about who becomes victorious,” said Mbambo.
The artist said young men in this age have substituted stick fighting for sex, which Mbambo said has become a game just like stick fighting. His work illustrates old customs of African men and how these affected their lives. Other artworks are illustrations of sex as well as disease and homosexuality.


Brian Mthobisi Maphumulo (which means “he who calms” in Zulu), was born in September in 1988 in Imfume on the South Coast of
KwaZulu Natal. He is one of five siblings.
His interest in art clearly manifested at the age of 9 when he engaged in craft work with plastic and clay. He only began his formal training in art in 2010 at the
BAT Center in Durban where he was introduced to a variety of mediums and genres. He started generating an income from drawing portraits and landscapes at the age of 13.

At the beginning of 2011, Mthobisi was selected to participate in the Velobala Art Classes, a one-year Saturday programme organised and facilitated by the African Art Centre at the
Durban University of Technology. Due to his hard work and dedication, Mthobisi was selected as one of the young artists to complete a mural painting project in Germany in October 2012. In 2013, because of his dedication and commitment, he was selected to participate in the Velobala Mentorship Project sponsored by the Department of Art and Culture, KwaZulu -Natal. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Durban and in Johannesburg.


Sthenjwa was born in Bothas Hill on
18 August 1991. He later moved to KwaNdengezi Township outside Durban and attended IDelani Lower primary school. It was while at primary school that he realised he was interested in art. As a little boy, he spent time making drawings and handmade crafts.
He joined the BAT Centre Visual Art classes in 2010 and says that these art classes introduced him to the professional art industry. Through taking part in these classes, Sthenjwa felt encouraged to explore and further develop his art skills. In 2011, he enrolled for the Velobala Saturday Art Classes hosted by the African Art Centre. At the conclusion of these classes in 2011, Sthenjwa was selected to take part in a Velobala Mentorship Programme as a result of his dedication and talent.

During his participation in the programme, Sthenjwa gained additional knowledge and practice in visual art making, art history and other practical art skills such as colour theory. “I gained a lot through the Velobala Mentorship Programme. I began to understand how art materials are utilised in a creative conceptual manner.”
He says that he is inspired by a number of artists such as Edward Hopper, Gerard Sekoto, Ephraim Ngatane and Yinka Shonibare.

2010: Who am I Group Exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery
2010: June 16 Group Exhibition, BAT Centre
2011: Izikhwepha Zethu. Durban Art Gallery
2011: Don’t Panic - Group Exhibition, Durban Art Gallery
2011: Velobala Group Exhibition, African Art Centre
2012: Velobala Group Exhibition, African Art Centre
2012: Velobala Mentorship Programme Group Exhibition, African Art Centre
2013: Velobala Group Exhibition, African Art Centre
2012: Group exhibition in Bremen, Germany
2014: Emerging Eyes, Group Exhibition at the African Art Centre, Durban

Public Art Projects

2010: Mosaic at Sakhithemba Centre (Illovu outside Durban, South Africa)
2011: Renewing BAT Centre Mural in Durban
2012: Mural of a Waterfall in the bridge (Don’t Panic project by Gabi Ngcobo)
2012: Mural in Concardia – Tunnel in Bremen, Germany


Nando’s Art Collection
Leiterin der Stadtischen Galerie Bremen (Germany)
AAC: African Art Centre, Durban
DUT: Durban University of Technology