The World / Umhlaba
9 September 2023
Participating: Bongi Bengu
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, Bongi Bengu's solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum, features paintings and select ceramics that reflect on her transformation and evolution to express her journey of transformation.
The exhibition will be officially opened by His Excellency Mr Antonis Mandritis, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus.
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.
PRETORIA ART MUSEUM
Address: Cnr Francis Baard & Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park, Pretoria
Tel: 012 344 1807/8
Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 to 17:00. Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays
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