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BRUSHSTROKES EXTENDED (article first published : 2000-12-14)

Put together over a period of two years, Brushstrokes is a collections of paintings by Mandla Mabila. It is a celebration of Mabila's life, including the bad, without which he says he could not have appreciated the great things about being alive.

"They talk about my disability as well without, I hope, making it the essence of life. It is possible to celebrate one's disability because, while there are difficult times, the better times are my focus," Mabila says.

"I have enjoyed making this work. Their size presented practical problems, especially as a wheelchair-user. Moving the masonite boards around to work on was quite a feat. The practical problems in producing the work make me appreciate the final product even more. The size of the paintings continues to grow, and so do I (as a person, that is). Over the years, I have been able to deal with aspects of my life through pain and will continue to do so as long as they still manufacture oils and brushes.

"Painting is said to be dead or dying, but that does not really bother me much because my paintings are full of the life I live ... they remind me of the person that I truly am and what I could be, a million other things. In my paintings, as in my dreams, I cross the boundaries of limitation - sometimes I play soccer or just stroll with a partner, things I hardly do in 'real' life.Painting gives me the opportunity to create a space into which I can run, but also a space that is full of possibilities, a space that is just as real.

"Being able to create an image of myself that is not only positive but also affirming is a special gift. Painting, as I see it, should not be subordinated to the more trendy artforms, but be given its rightful place among other artforms. My views on painting may be simple and idealistic, but what's wrong with simple and idealistic?" concludes Mabila.




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