Nyanga artist wins two awards in one weekend

A Nyanga ballpoint artist is over the moon after two scooping awards in one weekend from two prestigious art organisations.

On Friday Themba Mkhangeli won the #VukaYouth design competition run by Vukawanele and the following day he was announced overall winner of the Vuleka Art Competition organised by the Arts Association of Bellville.

His piece Umhlobo Wokwenene won the hearts of Vukawanele panellists while Ubuhle Bendalo touched nerve with Vuleka Art competition judges, making Mkhangeli the first black artist to win this award since its inception in 1963.

“My own mother was not even born when this award was initiated and I am just very excited to become the first black person to win it,” said Mkhangeli.

Vukawanele recently ran a competition calling on young designers to submit artwork showing what Youth Month means to them. The prize included a showcase portfolio website to allow upcoming artists to leverage the benefits of being discoverable online.

Mkhangeli described himself as an aspiring ballpoint pen artist who focuses mostly on the human form, particularly portraits.

“I started doing art at the age of five but I realised my talents in Grade 6 while doing school projects,” he said.

“The older children encouraged me and from the environment, my confidence grew. Now I’ve managed to get into different competitions like Sanlam Portrait Award 2017 (top 40 finalists), and also Vuleka art competition where two of my works were also selected through finalists but I could win which makes me proud,” he said.

He was a nominee in the creative category of the 100 Young Mandelas of Future campaign and has been featured in magazines, TV shows, and newspapers .

Mkhangeli said he is inspired by things he sees around him.

“Mostly I love nature. Africa inspired me with its beautiful nature – humans, plants, and animals. I love nature. When I was a kid I used to play with insects and killed them but as time goes I learned that insects are very important in our lives and they play a huge role. A green fly is a symbol of poverty,” he added.

He counts Elize Herholdt Bezuidenhout, Loyiso Mkize, Nelson Makamo as three of his favourite South African portrait artists, as well as Oscar Ukonu from Nigeria.

And while he is thrilled for his work to be recognised, he says he is not all about winning awards.

“My dream is to own my own art studio and gallery and to serve as a mentor to young people, particularly from the poorer black communities. Acquiring artistic knowledge and skills will provide a positive attitude and confidence and a much-needed source of income,” he said.