He is greatly inspired by the identity of contemporary African women and the issues that surround them. He often depicts these women wearing headscarves which are a symbol of womanhood and power. He explores how society often values a contemporary Africa woman as a commodity. (For example, as money and power in the lobola system.)
Mbongeni’s expressive strokes, scrapes and splashes break down the face but on standing back they come together as a solid form. The woman is solid and non-solid; there and not there; complete and incomplete. The contemporary African woman is many things and nothing.
In 2005 he moved his studio to August House in Johannesburg where he met Benon Latuuya. Since then Benon has greatly influenced Mbongeni’s approach. Another great inspiration is German artist, Voka, with his spontaneous and expressive gesture.
After completing his schooling at Waterford Kamhlaba, Swaziland, Mbongeni went on to study Fine Arts through correspondence at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. He then attended the Tswhane University of Technology in Tswane (Pretoria) for Fine Arts. He also studied 3D animation and simultaneously worked for several years in 3D animation before becoming a full time artist in 2008.
2017 SOLO Exhibition, Androgyn, ODA Gallery, Franschhoek, South Africa
2017 Future Masters, Gavin Projects Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2017 Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 August House Group Show, Hazard Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 Stephen Welz and Co Studio Gallery, South Africa
2016 Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 August House Group Show, August House, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 Dark Passages Lighted Rooms, MAP Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2015 Swaziland Now, Bushfire/Yebo Gallery, Swaziland
2015 Swaziland Arts and Culture Exhibition, Swaziland National Museum, Swaziland
2015 Swaziland Now, Yebo Contemporary Art Gallery, Swaziland
2014 African Frame Of Mind, Yebo Contemporary Art Gallery, Swaziland
2009 Swaziland Arts Association Annual Exhibition, Guava Gallery, Swaziland
AWARDS AND PUBLICATIONS
2017 SAFFCA (Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art) Residency Award
2016 Mbongeni’s painting, The Pipe Lady, is chosen for the cover of international magazine “Luxuria Lifestyle Magazine Africa”
2015 Winner of the prestigious Swaki Public Sculpture Competition.
2015 SACA (Swaziland Arts and Sculpture Awards) for Best Sculpture, for the second time.
2014 Top ten finalist for Babhali Besiswati – Macmillan Logo Design Competition
2013 SACA (Swaziland Arts and Sculpture Award) for Best Sculpture
2010 Awarded Best Public Sculpture by the Matsapha Town Board, Swaziland. (This is a public sculpture which stands in the town board gardens.
2004 Awarded the Best Figure Drawing Award at Tswhane University of Technology, Tswane (Pretoria), South Africa
2004 SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) portrait commission for national tv show, “All You Need Is Love”
My art explores the concept of solidity versus fluidity versus gaseousness. I’ve always seen the world through the microscopic eye of an atomic physicist and simultaneously the cosmic eye of an astrophysicist and herein lies the two extremes of physical existence…of my existence.
In observing my strokes, one can observe that the surface of the canvas and the surface of the skin of my subjects are broken down and disintegrated. I use my expressive strokes to articulate a discontinuity in both the skin of my subject and in the surface of the canvas…In this series of female portraits I explore the concept of the un-solidness of identity …gaseous, fluid and solid simultaneously…fluidity of identity…which layer, which state of matter truly represents the person.” 1016