Many faces of an icon

Portraits of OR Tambo by artist Vusi Mbulali.
Portraits of OR Tambo by artist Vusi Mbulali.
Image: Supplied

The exhibition of ANC struggle stalwart Oliver Reginald Tambo recently ended its warmly received run at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.

Held in partnership with artist Vusi Mbulali and the Oliver and Adelaide Foundation to commemorate the centenary of Oliver's birth, the exhibition was also observing SA's human rights month of March.

Mbulali uses mixed media of soft pastel, charcoal, squashed and burned papers, acrylic and pastel on primed canvas to reproduce familiar images of OR Tambo, originally in pictures.

The produced work ranges from exceptionally detailed portraits to abstract interpretations.

He says the collection is influenced by his militant characteristics, brilliance and powerful stature.

"OR Tambo reminds me of the feel of a rock that has been tested through fire and raining seasons only to discover that it has been a shining metal [i.e. gold] all along.

"It was covered by dust of the black and white clouds of our past but when its rusty covering is removed it reveals a likeness with nature; quite profound," he explains.

Mbulali adds: "With each stroke, I uncover a unique feature reflecting familiar characteristics of the beloved OR Tambo, sometimes a stalwart, and at other times the honourable expression of his face.

"This body of work is a tribute to a legend South Africa loves and honours."

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