• Mpumalanga-born artist Michael Mhlanga spoke to Briefly News about the ups and downs of his journey as a creative
  • The 27-year-old shared that he wasn’t always good with his hands, but determination and inspiration from others got him to where he is today.
  • He gained great recognition in 2020 when his painting titled: “The African Puddle” went viral on Facebook, which earned him several media reports.
  • 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 of inspiring South African artist Michael Mhlanga, who comes to life when armed with his brush, with which he creates evocative masterpieces on canvas.

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The young man, from Mpumalanga, Nkomazi, in a village called Mzinti, spoke to In brief News on his talent and its impact on his life.

Mpumalanga, artist, Michael Mhlanga, African stories
Talented artist, Michael Mhlanga, alongside his work titled “Nomthandazo”. Image: Michael Mhlanga/Supplied, Michael Mhlanga/michaelmhlanga.co.za
Source: UGC

Michael’s art was inspired

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

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“At first it was a bit difficult because it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I was so horrible that I couldn’t even hold a pencil, and once I almost quit. But by the grace of God, I persevered and art allowed me to meet wonderful young creative people who were a huge inspiration for 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 search of opportunities to develop his talent. He found himself in Pretoria, looking to take a graphic design course, only to find it was being offered at private colleges which he could not afford. He eventually enrolled in an art and design module at Tshwane North TVET College.

Art carries a voice message

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

“It allowed me to inform, educate or tell a story and allowed me to create pieces that come across as a powerful voice. It went from a career to a lifestyle,” did he declare.

The creative likes to use a variety of mediums to create his pieces.

“I don’t shy away from using other mediums and techniques a lot, but my recent collection is simply oil paintings on canvas.”

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Inspired by the stories of everyday people

The creative is inspired by the stories and cultures that surround him, which he approaches through his profession.

“I realized that people want to buy what they don’t have. I also like to create pieces about my experiences and those of my people, because that’s also where the inspiration for the stories comes from. I enjoy addressing issues that impact many of our youth, women, children and all.

Mpumalanga, fine artist, Michael Mhlanga, African stories
Michael Mhlanga has come a long way from the humble beginning of his journey as an artist. Image: Michael Mhlanga/Supplied
Source: UGC

Medicine for the soul and a way to earn a living

“As a growing artist, I realized that art can heal souls and nurture others. Many people, young and old in my village, have this same drive and passion for their different forms of life. art, but what’s missing is the inspiration to do it.

“My wish is to sell as many paintings as possible in order to be able to build an art workshop in my village where all those who have talent and desires will come to express themselves and possibly find buyers to feed their families as well”, said said a passionate Michael.

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He strongly believes that one can best fulfill one’s passion when one is surrounded by like-minded people in an environment that cultivates one’s greatness.

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

Proudest Accomplishments

Some of Michael’s proudest accomplishments include putting the teachings of his late best friend into practice, as he was one of the people who believed in him the most.

“Desmond Marakalala is and always will be someone I look up to, he was just a brilliant young man. There’s no one like him on my books,” he shared.

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

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He also recently opened his own online shop which contains works of art available for purchase.

More than the eye can discern

Michael shared that not everyone understands art and unfortunately not everyone really wants to understand it.

“Some people only see a photo. What is behind the creative process for me has to be one of the challenges, because you have to come up with a concept that will speak to more than one person, be as relevant as possible, without offend anyone and make it attractive enough for someone to check their pockets to buy it,” said the painter who always tries to keep it authentic.

Asked about the best advice he’s ever received, Michael shared the powerful words of his speaker, mam Ausiki Podi:

“Love your art, it will love you back.”

A local artist shows off his breathtaking work

In a separate story, In brief News already pointed out that art is a universal language! A local artist who goes by the social media handle @ZamanyGrootboom has asked people to stop and admire his work.

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

Taking to his Twitter page, @ZamanyGrootboom shared some amazing pieces he has done. The colors, creativity and sheer talent are simply breathtaking!

“The artist and the work of his hands.”

Source: News in Brief

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