The exhibition will be displayed from Sunday 16 to Thursday 20 in the University Library.
The material that Mbongeni Buthelezi uses for his "paintings" is always waste made of plastic: he cuts it into little pieces and glues them onto the canvas, creating surfaces and structures with subtle and changing tones and coloures. The use of such material shows Buthelezi's awareness of environmental problems and the physical decay of the townships as well as the references to general social and political impoverishment and flaw of opportunities and alternatives that he observes in South Africa.
Through his work, Buthelezi wants to mediate and communicate hope. He is convinced that seeing his works and his history, people are able to realise that in South Africa there are many opportunities, too, and that it is possible to create a better life and a career out of nothing; making art would enable people to change their lives and to contribute something positive to the world.
Buthelezi states about his style: “I now have 18 different techniques, each of which have subtle differences from the other. The material can be applied like large ‘brushstrokes' in many colours, or sepia toned where layers of neutral shading creates visual depth and subtlety or applied in a linear manner.
What’s most exceptional about Mbongeni Buthelezi art is the extraordinary technique involved. By layering and positions pieces of recycled plastic, he is able to create amazing portraits and mosaics, in a style that almost looks like oil paintings! Buthelezi is able to source the recycled plastic from recycling yards in Johannesburg, before taking them to his workshop and applying them to his art.
“I consider color. I consider the text sometimes that I get from these materials, because in a sense it brings a very interesting design element into my work” the artist says about his work. The technique of creating brush strokes can take around 5,000 pieces of plastic for a single canvas piece.
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