South African artist WonderBuhle Mbambo takes over Gallery 1957 London’s art space with his new body of work entitled “Inkunzi Isematholeni“. Until October 15, 2023, the visual artist will unveil a captivating series of works in his own image, for the first time at Gallery 1957 and in the UK.
Indeed, “Inkunzi Isematholeni” represents WonderBuhle Mbambo first solo exhibition at the art space and in the UK. Through this engaging and immersive artistic presentation, he expresses his desire to contribute to the growth of young people and new generations in order to build the identity of the future leaders of tomorrow’s society. This understanding comes from the metaphorical analysis of the exhibition’s title, which takes its name from a Zulu idiom that literally means “the quality of the bull depends on how the calf is raised“.
Born in 1989, WonderBuhle Mbambo is a South African visual artist from KwaNgcolosi in Kwazulu-Natal.In 2010, he received his formal training at the BAT Centre, responsible for coordinating a visual arts residency in Durban. He then studied Fine Art under the mentorship of Themba Shibase as part of the Velobala apprenticeship program at Durban University of Technology (2011-2013), and in 2016 was awarded the Bremer Kunststipenium Art Grant.Drawing on her artistic journey and everyday experiences, WonderBuhle Mbambo’s new series of works represents her personal and evolving introspection combined with her commitment to her home community.
The first piece in the series, a set of carefully assembled plastic spoons, immerses visitors in the warm atmosphere of community events and celebrations. Through this new series of works, brimming with captivating installations and paintings, WonderBuhle Mbambo reflects on and reappropriates the different stages of her ordination journey. Between his deep attachment to his roots and his approval as a leader in his community and far beyond, he allows visitors to be transported to the heart of his personal life evolution.
Wonderbuhle‘s “Inkunzi Isematholeni” showcases all the complexity and creativity that characterizes him to this day. His creations depict a soothing yet unsettling vulnerability that reveals his impulses and signature, enveloping the audience in an uncertain, almost unstable atmosphere. He presents self-portraits and also uses fashion as a language and a means of navigating through time.
The visual artist’s introspection goes beyond his artistic practice and takes into account his entire existence. Through this series of works, he becomes aware of the impact of his daily experiences on the expression of his art. Many of his self-portraits appear in different rooms of the gallery, as evidence of his ongoing process of self-exploration. The desire to work for the growth of her community is also one of the driving forces behind Wonderbuhle Mbambo‘s reflexive journey. The matriarchal and feminist ideals of the indigenous people who have since taken root in her community are displayed on her canvases. Despite the strength and malleability of these ideals, which transcend the surface of reality, he manages to channel and reproduce these feelings and different perceptions in his paintings, giving kineticism, momentum and mass to his portraits.
Many other themes intrinsic to the community are addressed by the visual artist in the course of this artistic presentation. At the heart of the exhibition is a painting of Marcus Garvey reimagined as WonderBuhle, in place of the activist. Through this painting, he pays homage to Marcus Garvey’s activism, while at the same time expressing his deep appreciation for the community spirit, a sentiment that is familiar to him and has fueled his personal evolution and achievements. The artist’s paintings and installations also demonstrate his interest in nature. Incessantly associated with these creations, it offers them a referential imbued with gentleness and beauty. Skins printed with floral motifs underline his analysis of ecological themes and his intention to convince people of the need to preserve the environment as best he can.
WonderBuhle Mbambo‘s “Inkunzi Isematholeni” exhibition is a testament to the artist’s commitment to her community, both local and global. It also represents the artist’s self-exploration through a diverse panorama of artworks. Through creative artistry and a captivating visual rendering imbued with historical, ecological and personal narratives and references, he encapsulates his life’s journey as a person and as a contemporary artist. WonderBuhle Mbambo invites the public to participate in his personal introspection and explore the depth of his role as a community leader.