No. 072 PAINTING WITH PLASTIC BY MGONGENI BUTHELEZI
Theme: South African Essence
For artist Mbongeni Buthelezi, who paints with molten discarded plastic, using this unique medium began as a matter of necessity. “One of the main reasons I started to work with plastic, back in 1991, was a lack of resources,” he says of the medium that allows him to create incredibly detailed, often larger-than-life artworks, using an impasto technique.
Buthelezi’s work has been shown in museums and galleries around the world, from the USA to the UK, Canada, Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives, yet his content is quintessentially South African. Born in KwaZulu-Natal and raised in Springs, the artist has moulded these worlds together and his work tries to make sense of his rural upbringing with an urban existence. “On one hand my art has always been very much part of my own personal experience but, on the flipside, it seeks to mirror and reflect on the political and socio-economic issues that South Africans face as a society.”
It was only years after discovering his unique medium that Buthelezi realised he was making a meaningful contribution towards the environment, leading him to champion art as a vehicle for positive change. “Support and respect all forms of art and the artists behind them,” he says, encouragingly. “And please, don't forget to respect our beautiful nature.”
100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with @platformcreative. To nominate a beautiful thing, visit