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INSELELO (CHALLENGE) (article first published : 2003-10-24)

While petrol attendant Mbhekeni Derrick Mbili earns a living filling the tanks of other people’s motorcars, he is fuelled by an all-consuming need to paint the visions that populate his vivid imaginary world. As soon as he hangs up his uniform for the day, he heads home to his rudimentary studio in Umlazi’s K Section, to spend the night hours covering canvases with vivid images.

An entirely self-taught artist, Mbhekeni’s talent was spotted and fostered by Njabulo Hlongwane, the BAT Centre’s visual arts co-ordinator.

“He has a completely original talent, and I have never seen anyone more committed to making art,” says Njabulo. “The work is honest, passionate and filled with energy. I believe that we will see a great deal more of this special talent in years to come.”

Mbhekeni’s second solo exhibition at the BAT Centre titled Inselelo (Challenge) features acrylics on canvas His large works depict social dilemmas that beset KwaZulu Natal, and large parts of the African continent, and the works are infused with his deep religious conviction. The art is saved from “preacherly morality” by the lively, animation-style execution of its subject matter, and the juxtaposition of brilliant colours. A strong interest has already been evinced in the artist’s work by the foreign art-buying market.

Inselelo (Challenge) runs in the Democratic Gallery from October 23 to November 16. More details from the BAT Centre on 031 332 0451.




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