John Vusi Mfupi

Born out of necessity, John Vusi Mfupi’s now signature collage style has become synonymous with artist’s visual depictions of daily life. Mfupi majored in painting at third year and after graduating discovered an artist’s need for space, not only work space, but also for storage. His solution was to replace paint with magazines. He comments on this, “Canvases are bulky, paper collages can be packed flat and easily stored. With collages, I'd make 20 or more artworks and stash them under my bed. I was only a couple of years out of the 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.” Mfupi also believes in sharing creative experiences and skills with the youth. While painting murals with school children, issues such as language, teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and HIV/AIDS are dealt with. Not only does he encourage dialogue around these issues, he also encourages children to think creatively about the use of alternative materials in the creative process. Passionate about education and art, Mfupi continues to share his expertise with several schools in Gauteng, teaching art and painting murals with learners. Mfupi has been involved in several public art initiatives, including the new Metro Mall and Faraday development, a flagship project for inner city renewal in Bree Street and the Faraday Taxi rank in central Johannesburg. This project coincided with the Lunch Bar campaign which ultimately saw him using the recycled chocolate wrappers in a collage for this initiative. A prolific artist, he has participated in many exhibitions, both locally and internationally, as well as producing murals in Madeira, Portugal as part of South Africa’s international celebrations of 10 years of democracy, and in Malaysia for the Delphic Games in 2005. Mfupi’s attitude towards art, education and social activism is best summarised in his own words: “As we will always say whenever we pray, ‘Our Father who ART in Heaven’, or ‘How Great is thou ART’. It is my duty as an artist to get people involved in art, especially the young ones”. Mfupi is currently represented by the Candice Berman Gallery and will be partaking in the 2017 Cape Town Art Fair.