FINE ART | FRAMING | ART ADVISORY
JOHN VUSI MFUPI BIOGRAPHY
Mfupi’s work portrays celebration of youth and mobility; dealing with human life matters that affect people globally. Mfupi’s style has developed into his well known up cycled collage technique, not only is this technique an efficient means of production as an artist living in a small space, the materials also play vital a role in portraying his concepts. Mfupi majored in painting at third year and after graduating discovered artist’s need space, not only work space, but also for storage. His solution was to replace paint with magazines. He comments on his solution, “Canvases are bulky, paper collages can be packed flat and easily stored. With collages, I’d make 20 or more artworks and stash them under my bed. I was only a couple of years out of the college, and it was tough getting going. I had no space and had to buy art materials; I started using magazines because the only thing I needed was colour.”
With firm belief it takes bravery to be an artist in South Africa and Mfupi enjoys sharing creative experiences and skills with youth. Whilst painting murals with school children, issues such as; language, teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and HIV/AIDS are dealt with. In dealing with such issues Mfupi believes one does not have to utilise traditional Fine Art media. On the contrary his use of recycled materials plays a strong roll in his concepts. Found materials such as burnt newspaper, found objects and pigments are combined to form an emotive reaction to his daily context. We find South African context surrounding this response, as it reflects physical materials and creates the generated energy of the artworks. The result is an authentic visual language that supports the notion of wall mounted art as well as raises our responsiveness of intrinsic aesthetic qualities of ordinary materials. Mfupi has s strong passion for encouraging young people to be artistic as according to Mfupi, art is not only about traditional materials it is also about making use of raw easily accessible materials.
I got involved in a public art initiative to shape the look and feel of the new Metro Mall and Faraday development, a flagship project for inner city renewal in Bree Street and Faraday Taxi rank. In 2004, I was once more fortunate to be selected to represent my beloved South Africa in Madeira, Portugal to paint a 2,5m high * 32m long mural that formed part of South Africa’s 10 years of democracy across the globe. Again in 2005 I was part of the 25 artists around the country who went to Malaysia for the Delphic Games. In 2006 we flew to Cape Town to attend the VANSA Conference which was attended by the big shorts of the art world. In 2008 I went to Scotland where we gathered as artists from all the Room 13 around the world. It was the first International summer schools for all the Room 13 artists. The aim is to grow this project so that it reaches all those disadvantaged schools and to instil the love of the arts to our communities. In 2012, I went to Argentina for a solo exhibition invited by the South African Embassy. As we will always say whenever we pray, ‘Our Father who ART in Heaven’, or ‘How Great is thou ART’. It is my duty as an artist to get people involved in art, especially the young ones. I have rendered my services to 25 schools around Gauteng teaching art and painting murals with the learners.