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About The Artist

Artist Photo

Artist statement

My work can be described as social commentary my life as a black/African woman, and a black woman artist. In my early years, I worked mainly in collage, drawing upon images from popular media, playing with the pervasive representations. In the later years I have moved towards more subtle forms of expression. My paintings have moved from the specific and more towards a form of expression where light, dark and texture have replaced the more literal expressions - a freedom where the narrative can be submerged and the essence can be explored.

I explore in my work my own evolution as a woman. I have moved an outer perception of myself as how I am expected to look, and how I measure up to that. My work has shifted from the outer to the inner so that I am connected more deeply to the world around me through my body.

My art is about connecting to an inner feminine goddess energy that resides in every woman, I invite the viewer to experience an inner awareness, a frequency of feminine power. The same invitation is extended to men to similarly connect to the feminine aspect in themselves. Bongi Bengu

Artist Biography

I was born in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, grew up in exile, in Geneva, Switzerland and studied at the International School of Geneva in Switzerland and later Waterford Kamhlaba, United World College in Swaziland. As a student in Swaziland, I received a distinction for a research project, which included interviewing established and major artists who later became my colleagues at The Bag Factory Studios in Newtown, Johannesburg.

It is through that eye opening exercise and exposure to the art establishment at such a young age that I decided to become an artist. I later enrolled and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree Mount Vernon College, in Washington DC, and a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from The University of Cape Town. I have since participated in numerous international residencies and workshops.

Artist CV

EDUCATION

  • 1975-1977: Khandisa Primary School, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Grade 1-Grade 2
  • 1978-1987: International School of Geneva, Switzerland. Grade 3-Grade 11
  • 1987-1989: Waterford Kamhlaba, United World College Of Southern Africa, Mbabane, Swaziland. International Baccalaureate
  • 1989-1993: Mount Vernon College, Washington DC, USA, Bachelor of Arts, Cum, Laude. Major: Fine Art
  • 1994-1997: University of Cape Town, South Africa. MFA- Power Gained-Power Lost: Aspects of Contemporary African Woman Visualised

    AWARDS

  • 1997: Standard Bank Award: Trainee Curator at the National Gallery, Cape Town
  • 1996 – 1997: University of Cape Town Maclver Scholarship – Award to promising postgraduate women students in Michealis School of Fine Art
  • 1996 – 1997: University of Cape Town CSD Scholarship
  • 1995 – 1997: University of Cape Town A W Mellon
  • 1992: National Museum of African Art Certificate of Recognition Washington DC
  • 1993: Mount Vernon College - Alphi Chi National Honour Society Award
  • 1993: Mount Vernon College - Arts and Humanities Award
  • 1993: Mount Vernon College - Fine Arts Award
  • 1993-1994: Who’s who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges
  • 1992-1993: Mount Vernon College - Merit Award
  • 1987: International School of Geneva-French

    SOLO EXHIBITIONS

  • 2013: Welcome to Bongism, Solo Exhibition, Art Afrique Gallery, Sandton, Johannesburg
  • 2008: Emancipation, Solo Exhibition, Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg
  • 2007: B2B, Solo Show, Westcliff, Johannesuburg.
  • 2004: Woman, Solo show, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2003: Woman, Solo show, The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2003: Faces, Solo show, Dat Hoghehus, Germany
  • 1998: Solo Exhibition, Spier Contemporary, Cape Town
  • 1997: Solo Exhibition, Association of Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, Cape Town

    GROUP EXHIBITIONS

  • 2018: Ways of Seeing and Beeing Seen,Johannesburg
  • 2018: Harlerm Arts festival, New York
  • 2015: SA Art 21 Years after Democracy, Durban Art Gallery
  • 2015: Identity-Cohesion,Grahamstown Arts Festival
  • 2015: Portretteer, Oude Libertas Gallery, Stellenbosch
  • 2014: Harlem Arts Festival,Chicago,USA
  • 2014: Sanaa Arts Festival,Johannesburg
  • 2014: Eshowe Heritage Arts Festival,KZN
  • 2013: Inkunzi Emanxeba: The legacy continues…, touring exhibition, Durban, Polokwane, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Eastern Cape and Johannesburg
  • 2012: 21BF, a 21st retrospective exhibition, The Bag Factory Studios, Johannesburg
  • 2011: My Selection, Group exhibition, Artspace, Johannesburg
  • 2010: Friends, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2009: Babette’s Feast, Artspace, Johannesburg
  • 2009: Innovative Women, touring exhibition, Constitutional Hill, Jeannette Unite Studio, Kizo Gallery
  • 2009: Sharing/Shared, Alliance Francaise, Johannesburg
  • 2008: Heptad, Artspace, Johannesburg
  • 2008: Visions, Kizo Gallery, Durban
  • 2007: Possibilities, Mumbai, India.
  • 2005: World beyond Words: A Visual Arts Platform of Contemporary Women’s Art in South Africa, Centre for African Studies Gallery, University of Cape Town
  • 2004: A Decade of Democracy: Witnessing South African Art, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • 2004: Group show, Identity, Fortis Circus Theatre, Scheveningen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2004: Ten Years of Freedom: Contemporary South African Art, Yac Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2003: Group show, Artspace, Johannesburg
  • 2003: Dreams for our Daughters, The Klein Karoo Arts Festival (KKNK), Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
  • 2003: Crossing-Knotting, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002: 10/10, The Bag Factory Studios, Johannesburg
  • 2001: The Big Bag Show, The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2001: La Hijas de la Terre, Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • 2001: Viewline, Solothurn, Switzerland
  • 2000: The Hourglass Project, A Woman’s Vision, Atlanta, USA.
  • 2000: Cross cultural currents, Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2000: Rivers of Spirit: Art Women in the African Diaspora, University of Illinois, USA.
  • 2000: Jak South African Art and Design, London
  • 1999: Group Exhibition, Association of Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, Cape Town
  • 1998 – 1999: South African Aesthetics, Travelling Exhibition, USA.
  • 1998: Family Ties, Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 1997: La Boheme: Noir, Primart Gallery, Cape Town
  • 1997: Survivors in Search of a Voice: Art Exhibition, Johannesburg
  • 1997: South African Landscapes, Primart Gallery, Cape Town
  • 1996: Cognisance: The Creative Cape, Association of Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, Cape Town

    INTERNATIONAL RESIDENCIES

  • 2006: Landscape International Workshop, Ngong forest, Kenya.
  • 2005: International Workshop, Zambia.
  • 2004: Sansa International Workshop, Kumasi, Ghana
  • 2001: AltesSpital, Solothurn Switzerland
  • 2000: National Black Arts Festival, Atlanta, USA
  • 2000: Gasworks, London
  • 1998: Printmaking Workshop in London with Master - Printer Jack Sheriff
  • 1998: Montana Artist’s Refuge, Montana USA

    PRESENTATIONS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

  • 2013-2014: Bambatha Steering Commette member,DAC
  • 2006: Trustee Arts & Culture Trust.
  • 2003: Board member of Unisa Art Gallery.
  • 2002: University of Cape Town, Cape Town
  • 2000: School of Oriental and African Studies, London
  • 2000: London Print Studio, London

    COLLECTIONS

  • MacDonalds,Chicago,USA
  • MTN, Johannesburg
  • Billiton B.H.P., Johannesburg
  • De Beers, Johannesburg
  • Rand Water, Johannesburg
  • Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg
  • Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, USA
  • Musée De la Civilisation, Québec, Canada
  • Department of Arts & Culture, Pretoria
  • The Spier, Stellenbosch
  • SABC, Johannesburg
  • Rand Merchant Bank, Johannesburg
  • UCT, Cape Town
  • Canton of Solothurn Government Offices, Switzerland
  • Nandos Art Collention, London
  • Van Den Ende Collection, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • South African High Commission, Maseru, Lesotho


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