For The People

Kimberley Graffiti artist to take part in International Exhibition

Art by Bonginkosi

Born and bred in Kimberley, this graffiti artist says art saved his life. It is what he uses to express himself to the Universe. He is a self-taught artist who taught himself the craft through watching other artists while he was living in Johannesburg and when he came back to his home town he searched for other artists and later discovered a new form of art, stencil drawing and print making which came to be his preferred medium.

 ‘A dancer always wants to reach a certain “high” just like a visual artist, it’s that one thing in art you cannot cheat,” he says in a humorous manner. It is a feeling and feelings should be met with all honesty, otherwise you will never be true to yourself, he articulates. Kei Rapodile, business associate to Mthalane, says that the artist is very talented and multi-dimensional, “I think that with the right support and access to the markets he will be able to reach greater heights,” expresses Kei.

Bonginkosi has been selected to participate in the International ArtLit Exhibition, under the umbrella of the Northern Cape Writers Festival for 2019. “I am very grateful and super excited for this opportunity, I’m hoping to learn about other mediums that other artists engage in, I’m also hoping to get exposure through exhibiting my creative work and to build a network with participants and stakeholders of the program”.

The artist says he is grateful for the award winning writer and lecturer, Sabata Mokae, “He really made me famous, he asked me to create a T-Shirt for a friend of his from California in the United States of America (USA), and has often brought many other customers from abroad to me. This gesture has really promoted my work, Mokae has always been supportive of my career”.

Mokae is also the curator for the NC Writers Festival and expresses that he has always believed in the power of messages on T-Shirt, “I remember seeing a T-shirt about the late Dr Martin Luther King Junior which read ‘They killed the dreamer but not the dream’. T-shirts are an integral part of activism, they carry powerful and effective messages. I was interested in T-shirts bearing the faces of two icons, Steve Biko and Solomon Plaatje. Then one day I saw one that looked impressively different from those that I have seen, I was told that they were printed by Bonginkosi Mthalane. I have ever since commissioned from him. I have countless T-shirts made by Bonginkosi, I believe he is a talented but underrated artist”. Mokae feels that it is vital, especially for black people who always face the harshest odds of climbing up the ladder, to master the art of networking. “It is called a spider’s web doctrine, my continued support to him and referring my friends to him is really based on this doctrine”.

When asked what the toughest thing about his work is he says that in his hometown, Graffiti artists are almost non-existent, “There is a lack of art culture in Kimberley and that can really dampen opportunities and getting people to part take or appreciate your art takes a lot of effort,” says Bonginkosi. The artist however says that he has found his passion and would not give it up for anything, “I do what I do because I love it and I think it cannot be produced in the way that I do it anywhere else,” he adds.

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