Vusi Mbulali is a South African born, paint artist who specializes in portrait painting. His most recent work includes painting South African heroes like the late Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and O.R. Tambo. Discovered at 12 years old, Mbulali uses abstract art techniques to express a unique interpretation of the famous faces he paints. He is also highly sought after for both family and individual portraits. His professional career spans well over 10 years painting experience and his clientele includes private individuals and public figures.
Mbulali’s talent was discovered at school, when his principal Maseko gave him homework to draw a human body and label it. His skill and precision was dumbfounding. This discovery launched Mbulali as the school artist. He was responsible for drawing charts, teachers’ district assignments, portraits, school competitions and book illustrations for his, author teacher, at secondary school.
While growing his art, Mbulali acquired and applied his skills in billboards sign writing and mural painting. His first solo exhibition took place in 2009 at Springs Art Gallery. Mbulali used this opportunity to display his retrospective portraits and to introduce a new technique in abstract art he had been working on. The reviews and feedback were overwhelmingly positive. He was also a part of just 30 artists to exhibit at the gallery as part of the 30 30 Contemporary Group Art Exhibition in 2014. He exhibited his abstract art at 30 30 which received a great review by Artist David Koloane (among others) making it an even greater success.
As a multi-skilled artist, Mbulali has over the years mentored art students at Matshidiso LSEN School in Johannesburg, South Africa 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, funded by Mr. Khumalo, a local businessman.
Mbulali met and worked with various Kwa-Thema artists including Mafa Ngwena during his art research in organizations, galleries and their studios. He was introduced to Artist Proof Studio by artist Kamogelo Masemola and art curator Thabo Sekoaila where he studied professional print making, both theory and practical for two years.
Vusi Mbulali’s current and best work yet consists of two collections of portraits; Nelson Mandela and O.R. Tambo portraits which are each a unique combination of portrait, representation and abstract interpretation.
The faces series, although born from a brief, took me on an exciting journey of discovery and expression. With each stroke I uncover a unique feature reflecting familiar characteristic of the beloved O.R. Tambo, sometimes the stalwart and at other times the honourable expression of his faces. This body of work is a tribute to a legend South Africa loves and honours.
I use a mixed medium of soft pastel, charcoal, squashed and burned papers, acrylic and pastel (for colour) on primed canvas to reproduce familiar images of O.R Tambo, originally in pictures. The produced work ranges from exceptionally detailed portraits to abstract interpretations. The completion of one work of art stirs up the inspiration and energy for the next, yet each one is unique in how it captures the subject. The final stroke is to maintain the integrity of the O.R. Tambo faces collection by presenting it at an exhibition that honours the legend it represents and everything he stood for.