Ever since Bulelani Mtshabe was confronted by the calling of drawing and painting at the age of six, he could not fight it back but performed his craft as a hobby.

However in 2008, Mtshabe, born in Mtshabe village in the Eastern Cape, abandoned the ‘hobby’ status and turned professional artist – a decision inspired by documentary of a famous South African-born artist, Louis Trichardt.

“I saw a documentary about Louis Trichardt’s artwork in 2008, I was impressed and decided to go professional,” said the Westonaria resident – who spent most of his childhood in various townships around Soweto.

Eight years later, the 25-year-old artist – whose skill of sketching and doing portraits have already produced more than 80 paintings since he turned professional – has been described as the future of art by local media.

His name might not be popular nationwide yet, but the rising star is adamant his name will be among one of the most popular artists in South Africa in the near future.

“I know right now I’m not popular in the art world, but I firmly believe that in the next 5 years my name is going to be in the top 10,” the self-taught artist told The Voice of SA.

Like other talented artists who remember where it all started, Mtshabe is no different.

“The first time I draw I was in Glenharvie [in the West Rand, Gauteng]. There was an artist called Soso. He drew a face of a man, the forehead was long, and he had small knees and small nose, I kept practising it for about 10 times until I got it right. From there I never stopped,” he reminisced.

The lack of finance to buy resources and the struggle of finding buyers could be a constant challenge; nonetheless, the complex of producing a masterpiece of art is what inspires his focus.

“I don’t focus one specific form of art. I only do something that is going to be difficult and complex. I like challenging myself,” said the former Boston College student, who studied Graphic Design at Braamfontein branch.

Photo Credit: Lunga Mtshabe


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