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About Mbulali IV

Mbulali IV is a portrait artist born in the east of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province of South

Africa. Mbulali’s interests in creative arts is inspired by the nature. Luckily for Mbulali, as a last born he was afforded an opportunity by his parents and siblings to play creatively in their comfort and in absentia. However, it was at the age of 12, where his talent was discovered by his principal, Mrs Maseko when she gave him home work to draw a human body and to label. His skills and precision were dumbfounding and this discovery launched Mbulali’s artistic journey.

His work has evolved from drawing school charts, posters and book illustrations to painting of South African heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Steve Biko. Mbulali draws his inspiration from his experiences and ideologies. He sees himself as a Knew Kid from the journey he found himself in which requires fresh ideas of creativity and ancient knowledge.

Mbulali took an opportunity to introduce his retrospective portraits and new techniques in his abstract works at his first solo exhibition in the Springs Art Gallery in 2009 and the reviews and feedbacks were overwhelmingly positive. He was also part of the 30 chosen artists exhibiting at the 30/30 Contemporary Group Art Exhibition in 2014. He exhibited his abstract art at 30/30 contemporary Group Art which received great reviews from David Nthubu Koloane, the late international acclaimed artist, educator, writer, curator, facilitator and a pioneer in the development of the black art community in South Africa and the co-founder of Johannesburg’s first black art gallery as well as being the head of Fine Arts at the Federative Union of Black Artists (FUBA) among others.

Mbulali’s work have continued to steadily grow and it even attracted collaborations with organisations such as Steve Biko and Oliver and Adelaide Tambo foundation. In 2017, Mbulali exhibited at the OR Tambo Centenary Celebration Exhibitions, and in 2018 his work was exhibited at the Talking to Deaf Ears Exhibition at Absa Art Gallery and The Aftermath exhibition hosted at First Rand’s popup exhibition space. In celebrating the Nelson Mandela centenary, Mbulali exhibited 100 of art works of Mandela series at Mall of Africa. Same year, he was among three artists who contributed to the book titled “Tambo Lenyoka” written by Lindiwe Mabuza and they went to Sweden in Europe to launch the book. These artists were Velaphi Mzimba and Michael Selekane.

Mbulali mentored art students at Matshidiso LSEN School and taught art to children at Geluksdal Library. He has further appreciated an opportunity to teach art in his home community with The Star in Vire Art Class Project.

In starting his print making journey, Mbulali was accompanied by his two colleagues Kamogelo Masemola, an Artist and Thabo Sikoila, an Art Curator to register and join artist proof studio where he studied print making theory and practical for two years. As a self-taught artist, Mbulali gained more experience in being around KwaThema community and organisations such as YCO, MSOMA and libraries, where he has encountered his counterparts like Polygraph Modupi, Bamboo Sibiya, Madi Phala, Mafa Ngwenya and Boniswa Buthelezi.

Mbulali spent more than six years of his career in August House Studios in Johannesburg, developing his techniques and themes amongst black liberation leaders. Currently, he is working private on a #Blaqpower series and brand.

Artist Statement

As an artist, I am driven by the beauty of nature.  It inspires me to express my creative abilities and to make a meaningful contribution in the nation through art.

I use an afro comb shape which Identifies a human portrait sketches that carries struggle, responsibilities and victory symbols.

The rhythm and harmony of music drives my ability to flow borderless through the depth and the surface of my abstract world.

One of my favorite materials to work with is charcoal on brown, burnt or smoked paper; they often make me feel authentic. And creating my own sculptural tools from plastic rubber and sponges gives me some sense of technology modernistic, while using mixed medium gives me freedom of creativity.

Overall, my art has a concern of courage as a future foundation through ideas, confidence and possibilities.


Developing young artists

The project was founded in December by Abel Khumalo, who is a resident of KwaThema Extension Two.

Twelve children from primary and high schools take art lessons at no cost, most of them are from Extension Three, KwaThema… Continue reading

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