Mondli Augustine MBHELE (Durban)
Fabric collage on canvas
Congratulations on being announced as the overall winner of the Sasol New Signatures Competition 2022.
Is this the first time you have entered the competition?
Yes, it was my first time.
Tell us a little about your artistic journey up until the point of entering Sasol New Signatures 2022.
I have been working for six years with a collective of young Durban-based artists that promotes hard work and solidarity amongst fellow artists- the Amasosha Art Movement. During Covid19, I built my studio at home in Cato Manor. I have been working in my studio, creating a body of work because, as a full-time practising artist, it is a must for me to create.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career as an artist to date?
Artists Wander Mbambo, Mthobisi Maphumulo and Sbonelo Tau Luthuli.
Tell us a little about why you created the piece you submitted.
This work submitted is inspired by South African historical events that share ideas with events that have happened since 28 years of democracy in South Africa. This artwork was inspired by Sharpeville’s 21 March 1960 Anti-pass law event and the 2020 Covid19 events/laws regarding vaccination cards and face masks. I saw that both of these share the same ideas In terms of accessibility.
Tell us about your preferred medium/s …and why.
I use fabric collage as my medium of expression, because I am inspired by how fabric can be used in creating garments for different groups and ages of people, and I also realised similarities that fabric shares with our daily life events in the perspective of covering our bodies and busting or elevating our confidence to be able to face a new day and also as a symbol of recognition or direction for example uniforms Doctors, Police, Cleaners etc. In my work, I also use offcuts that I collect from fashion designers around Durban. While collecting those offcuts, I realised that fabrics have a gradation of value, worth and qualities. But when those offcuts of fabric are thrown away, they share the same state of being vulnerable. I recycle those offcuts and create a new dialogue that will get a chance to be appreciated and have a sense of their own purpose and voice than being thrown away.
When people view your work – what reaction/response are you hoping to create?
Most people are amazed by my work. Many of them think it is a painting until they get close to my artworks, and then they have a different perspective when they realise it is a fabric collage. Their positive responses always drive me to create more. The reaction I always hope for is to create work that will have depth and resonates both technically and conceptually.
Why do you think your work was chosen as a top 7?
I think my work was chosen because of the technical aspects as well as the concept. My work speaks about relevant topics of people and daily life in South Africa that date back in history. And also my unique way of approaching medium of expression.
And if you are chosen as the overall winner? How would you feel? Have you already got an idea or vision for your solo exhibition?
If I am chosen as the overall winner, that will be a dream come true. It has taken me seven years to be able to enter Sasol’s New Signature art competition. I always tell myself I have to work hard, push and go beyond boundaries technically / conceptually in order to be able to participate in a competition of this magnitude. I will feel honoured and also excited. It will show that persistence gives birth to new life /beginnings if you believe in what you create as an artist. I have ideas because I am always creating as a full-time practising artist. The artwork that I have entered into this competition is part of a series called Umlando uyaziphinda. It is an isiZulu saying that history repeats itself. The series is made up of 13 large works – 7 of those artworks are (2mx 1m), and 3 of those artworks are (5mx1, 90m).
What are you currently working on? What is next for you as an artist?
I am continuing work on my 13 works for Umlando uyaziphinda. Some works are finished, and some works in progress. My next step as an artist is to be able to create new connections with national and international galleries through art competitions, art fairs, and art residencies.
Which South African artists do you admire and why?
George Pemba (1912-2001) Because of his subject matter including portrait paintings of individuals and groups, landscapes, references to religious topics and commentary on political and social circumstances, and also the way he concentrated on portraying the people and their lives in new Brighton where he spent most of his life.
Read more on the winning artwork here