The World Umhlaba Solo Exhibition by Bongi Bengu was opened by His Excellency Mr Antonis Mandritis at the Pretoria Art Museum on the 9 September 2023.

In his opening remarks His Excellency Mr Mandritis welcomed the Ambassador of Serbia and other colleagues as well as all guests to the inauguration of the art fair.

“It is often said that a picture paints a thousand words.”

Art has the ability to bring together the human race as one people and unite us in a single feeling of excitement, stress, anger or love. Art acts as a form of communication that allows us to explain what we cannot through words. Through the use of artists communication the artist creates meaningful works whose purpose is to evoke a response from the audience limited only by ones imagination.
The local art on display shows what talent Africa has . Bongi Bengu is one of the distinguished artists with over 20 years of artistic experience, she holds numerous qualifications from various universities around the world, she has partaken in art exhibitions both locally and internationally while still staying true to her South African roots.

Bongi Bengu’s highly versatile work is a social commentary on her life. Though primarily a painter, she has worked with collage, soil and clay. Over the years, her work has been evolving and transforming in texture and depth from creating charcoal and pastel drawings that dealt with women and power to using art as a meditation to invoke the power within the self.

Her recent work sees her engaged with nature by using organic materials such as leaves by deliberately momentarily preserving them in an attempt to question and reinterpreting the meaning of life. The work speaks of the process of decay and renewal of life, echoing her experience of exile and homecoming which has shaped her worldview.

Curated by Mmutle Arthur Kgokong, The World / Umhlaba, solo exhibition features paintings and select ceramics that reflect on her transformation and evolution to express her journey of transformation.

Bongi Bengu was born in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal. She grew up in exile in Geneva, Switzerland. She received her secondary schooling education in Switzerland and later in Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland.
As a student in Swaziland, she received a distinction for a research project, which included interviewing established and major artists who later became her colleagues at The Bag Factory Studios in Newtown, Johannesburg. It is through this eye-opening exercise and exposure to the art establishment at such a young age that she decided to become an artist. She later enrolled and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at Mount Vernon College, Washington DC, and a master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Cape Town. She has since participated in numerous international residencies and workshops.
Bongis art is a true inspiration for both art lovers and artists.

by Marion Kate