Fundraising for education by auctioning off internationally reputed South African artist Simphiwe Mbunyuza’s works during Aspire Art auction

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

The first time I met mi art philanthropist and committed supporter of the value of education in society Tumi Moloi was during the middle of the raging Covid-19 when he had organised in association with Aspire Art an exhibition to raise money to save  the Soweto based iconic art institution Funda Centre. That was in 2021, when restrictions were relaxed a bit, allowing for a limited number of gatherings. Funda at the time was facing a certain financial ruin due to lack of official support for this institution, which ironically flourished during apartheid as an alternative place to train young would-be artists from the black community.

These artists were often excluded from enrolling in white institutions of higher learning due to their skin colour. Funda and other institutions in the education sector, including FUBA and Khanya College, to name just a few filled that gap. And so did others such as Johannesburg Art Foundation.

This time, Moloi is at it again, and this time raising money to assist students at tertiary education level facing the risk of being excluded from educational opportunities due to the lack of funds as a result of their disadvantaged  social backgrounds.

And again, this time around, just like the last time, Moloi is partnering with Aspire Art to organize another art auction in Johannesburg.

This auction will see the artworks of another exceptionally talented and internationally reputed South African artist go under the hammer.

The participation of Simphiwe Mbunyuza in the auction with Aspire Art, on 30 November 22. Forms my continuous efforts to fundraise for the university art students who are at risk of not completing their studies due to a lack of funding, I have again partnered with Aspire Art to fundraise through auctions where the consignments for the cause are integrated into a normal auction.

That being said, I have secured the participation of Simphiwe Mbunyuza in this project who is known for his vigorous clay sculptures worldwide. So, I would like to shine a spotlight on him as it will be his first time ever to participate in the South African art market following his international success-I take him as a new product in the art market.  

The artist has been working with world-top galleries in the USA and Europe, also scoping some international art prizes and awards,”Moloi told CITYLIFE/ARETS this week. 

Indeed Mbunyuza has a high international profile, though not that much known in South Africa.

“My work involves relationships and interactions within African cultural symbolism and cultural day to day objects used by African groups particularly Xhosa people. The object is the subject of functional and non-functional ceramic pots and sculptural pots. The drama carried by the pots entails and details the African culture of Bantu speaking people, in relation to other African cultural groups.

“I grew up in South Africa, Eastern Cape Province, Butterworth in the village called Mambendeni which is surrounded by various villages of Xhosa speaking people. Today these villages are no longer occupied by Xhosa speaking people only. There are now different African cultural groups occupying the villages. My work therefore portrays the values and the importance of these historical and present cultural elements from these groups.

From these cultural I look at elements such as the use of color. The way in with they build and decorate their mud houses which to me bring a sense of how creative and artistic they are. The way they decorate their faces with red, yellow or white ochre which they dig from the river banks or use different types of rocks. They usually use this ochre to create dots on their faces and smear it on their chicks and arms as a form of beautifying themselves. Usually this is done by woman occasionally during their traditional rituals and as their day to day lifestyle make ups.

I also pick up some elements such as day to day objects that they use for home use and tools that are used around home, which are made from tree logs, stones and clay. I also draw some attention in the way they cook, the colour of their foods.

The artist holds a Master of Fine Art degree from The University of Oklahoma and a Fine Arts degree from Walter Sisulu University. He has exhibited internationally, including a recent exhibition at Marianne Boesky in Aspen, Colorado and USA, as well as Gallery 1957 in London and Accra, among others. He is the recipient of awards and residencies including the Anderson Ranch Arts Centre in 2021; the Red Clay Faction Award and Oscar Jacobson Award from The University of Oklahoma in 2019; John Steele Award for Excellence in Ceramics from The Walter Sisulu University; a residency with A.I.R Vallauris, France, in 2017 and has been invited to participate on a two-years residency at world-renowned Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, USA.

Aspire Art’s The 20th Century  &Contemporary Art live auction will take place in Johannesburg, with its preview taking place from 25-30 November 2022, 32 Bolton Road, Parkwood ENQUIRIES |

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