INTRAPARADOX: Interview with Wonder Buhle Mbambo

The Wonder of Comfort

27 November 2020 at about 10:30, BKhz Studio, Johannesburg

Overture

It is always refreshing to become aware of new art, to be acquainted with a new vision. I have had the privilege of sitting down with Wonder Buhle Mbambo. To listen to his life’s journey as an artist up to the point where we were sitting down at BKhz Studio for our interview. That Friday morning, thanks to unforeseen circumstances, I arrived at around ten thirty in Johannesburg, Braamfontein, for an appointment that would have taken place at nine.

Earlier on before the scheduled interview, Banele Khoza and I headed out to a café around the corner for some coffee. For me, a few times I have been there has set this part of the corner of Juta and De Beer Streets as a familiar spot for beverages and light meals. This would possibly be my last coffee there under familiar circumstances. But let me not get ahead of myself. 

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The next interception…

Upcoming blog post: Intraparadox

[We] are happy to announce that the transcript of our interview with Wonder Buhle Mbambo, through the support of BKhz Studio, will be made available this coming Friday morning. It was a privilege to have the chance to intercept Mbambo at this point in his career.

This edition to the Intraparadox archival series, signals the beginning of a new volume in an art historical approach commitment that started with Tshepo Mosopa more than a decade ago.

May we find the artist.

Comfort, the centre piece

Wonder Buhle. Comfort (2020). Acralyc and metallic gold on Canvas. 163X 330 cm (Reserved)

[I] have tried not to be persuaded by my experience of talking to the artist and working on the transcription of our conversation not to read too much on his life’s impact on his work. However as I worked through the text I could not help but notice the symbols at work in his artistic output. These symbols are noticeable in the work Comfort (2020) which is also the title of the solo exhibition on show at BKhz Studio at the moment.   

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All is not permanent…

[As] this year neared its end and people started to shrug off the lethargy that hovered above this year, the sayings; it has been a difficult year, what a strange year it was, became somewhat expected tags to our conversations. I am sure you have encountered many phrases that truly clarifies what this year has been about closest to these phrases.

For some of us the memory of March to August 2020 will remain blank professionally. A shock resulting from an interrupted routine.  Even though the isolation period gave us time with family, honestly it was a forced situation. Suddenly all the issues we have been avoiding as far as family matters are concerned had to be faced head on. Indeed life would never be the same again.  

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Limbo

/an uncertain period of waiting/

Like the rest of everybody these days, I am uncertain when I think about the future. Though, at the start of this difficult moment found myself trying to convince those around me that these dark days will pass. In hindsight I was actually talking to myself when I said that our world was being cast anew. These days, I often lose track of time and live for the moment. Sometimes I have to stop and think what day it is and what I did yesterday. It has been a bit easier over the years though, that is under normal circumstances. The days of the week flowed naturally. With their own rhythm. Even one of the most hated days of all, Monday flew with its charm.

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Translucency

[D]ear reader ever since 21 days lockdown announcement I have been extra conscious of my feeble existence. Don’t get me wrong I know that it’s a fact that there will be a full moon one day without me in this world to expecienc it [you are more than welcome to rewrite that sentence in a manner appropriate to your current state of mind].

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Grip

noun/
The act or instance of grasping and holding firmly.

 

[T]here is a paucity that grips the world in a dazed haze today. It’s like going through an experience you are not equipped to tackle with no choice but to do whatever it takes to go through the experience. It’s a buzz around in circles, but you have to cross the bridge even though you are not sure whether you will make it to the other side or not. But if you do make it to the other side is there anything there?

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Grandmother Hearth

i looked at her face

And i was confronted by engraved tributaries

Spidying in trickles trinkets in a thousand cracks impressions

 

Hair bleached

By the wink and dosing suns

That peer, skip and dunked away during her lifetime

Silvered not by artificial means, nay-nay

But a grey of knowledge

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COACO: Morena David Mthubu Koloane

At certain points in our life we meet people who influences how we see things. At the very best such moments are not really prolonged. It could be a conversation lasting for a few minutes or under fortunate circumstances it can turn out to be a philosophical exchange that lasts for years. However such finer moments in our lives are not really marked by their prolongations. They are marked by the exchange itself. They are marked by what one take away from them. From there on wards it really doesn’t matter how often one can be exposed to the one who have insight into things that we wrestle with. They have cleared the cobwebs. We return to them to iron whatever creases that may remain. This might be an extended privilege on our part because we already know what needs to be done.»»

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COACO: Perhaps to the river we will arrive

» Sometime in 2005 the exhibition Take Me To The River (TMTTR) took place at the Pretoria Art Museum¹. That exhibition featured a group of international artists amongst them South African artists, Nicholas Hlobo, Sharlene Khan and Churchill Madikida (now Songezile Madikida). At that time the Genesis II exhibition was at its infancy. I recall how at the opening of that exhibition on the evening of Wednesday 25 May Together with some of the Education Assistants (Museum Volunteers) of that time, Thami Msimango, Nthabiseng Rachel Montshiwa and Mxolisi Xaba, we looked at what the TMTTR as a project had achieved; which was the group exhibition as well as the incorporation of art made by learners from Gatang Secondary School. This left us with a satisfied feeling that the learners eventually when they arrived that evening to for the opening would see where art can take them and where it eventually belonged when an artists is established; when their work became heritage.

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