South African artist In conversation with the world 🌍
WonderBuhle, born 1989 in South Africa, is a Durban-based visual artist from Kwa-Ngcolosi, a village that is still ruled by a chief. He started making art as a hobby at the age of nine. He says that his mother encouraged him to explore art as a career as he used to play with charcoal from the fire and draw stick figures on the walls of the house as a child.
WonderBuhle received his first formal training through the BAT Centre Artists in Residency (AIR) Program and went on to study fine art through the Velobala apprenticeship program at Durban University of Technology, under the mentorship of Themba Shibase.
The artist states: “I understand my artistic practice as a space between my inner soul, my dreams and my identity. I communicate my views from where I am standing as a black youth in South African society and the world at large. South Africa is in a moment of self-realization; reflecting and embracing its cultural diversities, whilst rewriting its stories through the lenses of young people who are curious, like myself.”
WonderBuhle had his first solo exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery in 2018 and has been included in numerous group shows at Unit, (London, 2020); The Art House (Wakefield, 2018); Michaelis Gallery (Cape Town, 2017); KZNSA (Durban, 2015) and the African Art Centre (Durban, 2014). In 2016, he was the recipient of Bremer Kunststipendium Art Grant (three-month residency) and in 2020; he took part in the La Brea Studio Artists Residency in L.A.
Wonder Buhle Mbambo’s portraits depict spiritually charged visions of Black bodies in restful and contemplative poses, rendered in charcoal and acrylic against flat planes of color. His signature motif is a gold flower-shaped pattern, which he overlays on top of his figures’ skin. Poetic and personal, this recurring symbol references a native flower used for ancestral practices in Mbambo’s rural South African village, and serves as a reminder of the artist’s strong ties to his community.
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