Lockdown a productive period for artist Mfupi

Soweto-born visual artist Vusi Mfupi has been enjoying living in his studio and producing artworks during the national lockdown.

Mfupi, who has been an artist for more than 22 years, has been keeping himself busy, dividing his time
between his studio in Eloff Extension in the Joburg CBD and his home in Soweto.

"I was hoping to participate in different art fairs but when the corona started, many events were cancelled," he said.

"Instead of entertaining that disappointment I just started painting and wanted to keep myself busy during this lockdown. I have been literally living in the studio."

"I spend three days here, working and sleeping here. I then go home to Soweto for two days and come back again. I have groceries and pots to cook here.

"But also I have been exercising just to stimulate my mind."

Mfupi is still hoping that the annual Turbine Hall art fair that takes place in Newtown, Johannesburg, around July will still go ahead.

The organisers of the event have not indicated whether it will be cancelled or not.

Mfupi studied fine art at the Funda Community College in Diepkloof, where he attained a diploma in fine arts.

He is now a master of his own technique, called collage paper technique, in which he cuts newspapers and magazines into small pieces to create outstanding art pieces.

"I was only a couple of years out of college and it was tough getting going. I had no space and had to buy art materials. I started using magazines because the only thing I needed was colour," he explained.

Mfupi is not worried that he will run out of material during the lockdown.

He says he has been fortunate that people always supply him with magazines.

When it comes to subject matter, his art is a celebration of youth and mobility, dealing with issues that affect people globally.

He is a man who does not run out of subjects, as his art captures day-to-day experiences.

The 42-year-old artist said: "My focus has been [on] discovering my own culture. It's an interest fuelled by travelling, and I wanting to share that with my audience.

"With collages, I'd make 20 or more artworks and stash them under my bed."

He has also been involved in many public art initiatives that includes the Metro mall and Faraday taxi rank.

In 2004, he was flown to Madeira in Portugal to paint a long mural that formed part of South Africa's celebration of 10 years of democracy across the globe.

In the past two decades, Mfupi has exhibited his works locally and internationally.

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