Rural Artist Buhle Mbambo On His Journey To The Durban Art Gallery

Hailing from the rural village of KwaNgcolosi, twenty-nine-year old artist Buhle Mbambo is set to have his very first solo exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery where he will be unpacking a project inspired by his family history. He shared with the Daily Vox his story of success as a rural artist who has made a name for himself and changed perception about art not being a career one can make a living out of.

My passion for art started back in high school. I would always use my spare time to draw sketches and do some painting. We didn’t have it as a subject so I did physical science and mathematics.

After completing matric I took a gap year and didn’t go to university because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. After that year I had made up my mind that I wanted to study art. Although I grew up in a rural area where people weren’t familiar with it, I was fortunate enough to have my mother who supported and encouraged me.

My mother had been a domestic worker so she was familiar with art from the kids of her employers. She told me to follow my heart instead of ending up doing courses such as engineering; something that I had no passion for. In 2010 I enrolled in art studies at the Bat Centre where I was shaped and moulded into a real professional artist.

This was the best time as I was finally doing something that I loved with my whole heart. In 2011 I had a chance to be selected as one of the people who were going to Germany to collaborate with artists from there, it was an honor and a precious privilege for someone who comes from a rural area. Little did I know this was the beginning of the great things, I went overseas again to showcase my studio, this time I was able to scan through different countries.

Today I’m a breadwinner at home and people have started understanding my career. Although I’ve been able to work my way to the top, there were challenges that I encountered through my journey. Making a name for yourself in the market is not easy in this industry. One has to work hard in order to make sales traveling to Germany helped open the doors for me; people have also taken a leap of faith and started collecting my work.

I can’t wait to showcase my work in a solo exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery this coming week. Most of my work currently is about my family history. I also do a lot of commentary work on politics and social ills, it’s my way of playing a role in the country.

Featured image by Lizeka Maduna.