Talented Mpumalanga Fine Artist Michael Mhlanga Breathes Life Onto Canvas Using Inspiring African Stories

Talented Mpumalanga Fine Artist Michael Mhlanga Breathes Life Onto Canvas Using Inspiring African Stories

  • Mpumalanga-born artist Michael Mhlanga spoke to Briefly News about the highs and lows of his journey as a creative
  • The 27-year-old shared that he was not always good with his hands but that determination and drawing inspiration from others got him where he is today
  • He gained a lot of recognition in 2020 when his painting titled: “The African Puddle” went viral on Facebook, earning him several media features
  • The oil painter shared that art is a powerful force, a means of expression and an educational tool and hopes to one day open an art studio in his village of Mzinti

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There is a saying that goes, “Every great artist was first an amateur.” The same can be said about inspiring South African fine artist, Michael Mhlanga, comes alive when he is armed with his paintbrush, with which he creates evoking masterpieces on canvas.

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The young man, who hails from Mpumalanga, Nkomazi, in a village called Mzinti, spoke to Briefly News about his talent and how it has impacted his life.

Mpumalanga, Artist, Michael Mhlanga, African Stories
Talented fine artist, Michael Mhlanga, alongside his artwork titled, 'Nomthandazo'. Image: Michael Mhlanga/Supplied, Michael Mhlanga/michaelmhlanga.co.za
Source: UGC

Michael’s artistry was inspired

His journey as an artist started in 2018 and he admits it took him a while to master.

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“At first it was a bit tough because it wasn't what I really wanted to do. I was so horrible I couldn't even hold a pencil, and once I almost quit. But by the grace of God, I persevered and art has allowed me the opportunity to meet wonderful young creatives who were a huge inspiration to my growth.
"Guys like my late best friend Desmond Marakalala, Penelop Motaung, Tumelo Take, Jason Maphanga, Kgahliso Taunyane, Itumeleng Mnguni, Vanessa Selahla, to name a few.”

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The 27-year-old left home in pursuit of opportunities to expand his talent. He found himself in Pretoria, looking to do a graphic designing course, only to find that it was offered in private colleges which he couldn't afford. He eventually signed up for an art and design module at Tshwane North TVET College.

Art carries a vocal message

For Michael, art has become more than just a beautiful creation. He shared that it has afforded him an unspoken voice that impacts others.

“It has allowed me to either inform, educate, or tell a story and has allowed me to create pieces that stand as a powerful voice. It has turned from a career to a lifestyle,” he said.

The creative enjoys using a variety of mediums to create his pieces.

“I don't lock myself a lot from using other mediums and techniques, but my recent collection is simply oil paints on canvas.”

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Inspired by everyday people’s stories

The creative is inspired by the stories and cultures around him, which he addresses through his craft.

“I realised, people want to buy what they don’t have. I also enjoy creating pieces about my experiences and my people's experiences because that's also where the inspiration for the stories comes from. I enjoy addressing issues that impact a lot of our youth, woman, children and all.”
Mpumalanga, Fine Artist, Michael Mhlanga, African Stories
Michael Mhlanga has come a long way from the humbling start of his journey as an artist. Image: Michael Mhlanga/Supplied
Source: UGC

Medicine to the soul and a means to a livelihood

“As a growing artist, I realised that art can heal souls and feed others. Many people, young and older in my village, have this same drive and passion for their different art forms, but what is lacking is the inspiration to do it.
“My wish is to sell as many paintings as possible so that I can build an art studio in my village where everyone with the talent and wishes will come to express themselves and possibly get buyers to feed their families too,” said a passionate Michael.

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He is a firm believer that one can grow better into their passion when they’re surrounded by like-minded individuals in an environment that cultivates their greatness.

The young man’s biggest desire is to travel the world and break the discourse that Africa is the mud, clay, or poverty shown on some international screens, but rather share that it is a heaven of great people, great talents, and richness.

Proudest achievements

Some of Michael’s proudest achievements include living out his late best friend’s teachings as he was one of the people who believed in him the most.

“Desmond Marakalala has and will forever be a person I look up to, he was just a brilliant young man. There's none like him in my books,” he shared.

Michael has also been featured on several media platforms from England, Kenya, and Mzansi after his artwork titled: The African Puddle went viral on Facebook in 2020.

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He also recently opened his own online store that contains artworks available for purchase.

More than meets the eye

Michael shared that not everyone understands art and that sadly not everyone actually wants to understand it.

“Some just see a picture. What goes behind the creative process for me has to be one of the challenges, because you have to come up with a concept that will talk to more than one person, be as relevant as possible, while not being offensive to anyone as well as make it attractive enough to make someone check their pockets to buy it,” said the painter who always seeks to remain authentic.

When asked about the greatest piece of advice he’s been given, Michael shared powerful words from his lecturer mam Ausiki Podi:

"Love your art, it shall love you back.”

Local artist shows off his breathtaking work

In a separate story, Briefly News previously reported that art is a universal language! A local artist who goes by the social media handle @ZamanyGrootboom had people taking a moment to stop and admire his work.

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If there is one thing that brings people together, it is art in all its forms. Seeing pure talent evolve into pieces of art is sure to take anyone’s breath away.

Taking to his Twitter page, @ZamanyGrootboom shared a few incredible pieces he has done. The colours, creativity, and pure talent are just mind-blowing!

“Artist and the work of his hands.”

Source: Briefly News

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