Coco Collection to host “plastic painting” residency with Mbongeni Buthelezi

Coco Collection has announced a partnership with South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi to host a month-long residency in November 2019. Known for inventing his own method of “plastic painting”, Mbongeni will be the first artist to take up residence at Coco Bodu Hithi as part of Coco Collection’s new art programme “Nurture”.

“Nurture” will be an ongoing effort by Coco Collection to help and encourage the development of art and artists focused on environmental and wildlife conservation. By using art to educate and to raise awareness of these global issues, their goal is to contribute to the care and protection of the environment.

Mbongeni is the first of these artists to take part in “Nurture”, as he explores an unfamiliar medium by creating stunning masterpieces using a heat gun and thousands of pieces of plastic rubbish.

“I use rubbish to create something beautiful from it. I collect something that has no value and give it new life. That’s what we can do with ourselves and our lives.” – Mbongeni Buthelezi

Mbongeni chose plastic to work with during his art school days as a way of making a statement in order to raise awareness about the plastic challenge our world is facing today, and to stand out amongst the sea of artists emerging from his local scene.

He scavenges for art supplies on the streets of Johannesburg on the way to his studio and meticulously lays strips of discarded plastic onto a canvas. This is followed by a blast from the heat gun to sculpt the plastic into gritty portraits full of texture depicting the beauty, diversity, and reality of life. Having developed this method 20 years ago, Mbongeni has since made a name for himself as one of South Africa’s most original artists and has had his work featured across the globe.

During the residency at Coco Bodu Hithi, Mbongeni will be working on a piece titled “The Children of the Sea”, depicting the culture and heritage of the Maldives and how the lives of Maldivians intertwine with the ocean. Using discarded plastic collected from the beaches of the Maldives, the finished piece will be transferred to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu for installation at the end of the residency. Mbongeni will also be installing five art pieces around the walkways of Coco Bodu Hithi, all of which will showcase the marine life of the Maldives.

As part of the residency, Coco Bodu Hithi will also be hosting an exhibition featuring a number of Mbongeni’s brilliant, captivating pieces that has been curated for the event.

In addition to the exhibition, Mbongeni is going to be leading workshops where he will be sharing his techniques and knowledge while helping attendees explore, experiment, and get in touch with their creative side. Some of the Maldives’ most notable and established artists are set to attend the workshop which will also be open for resort guests and local school children.

About Coco Collection:

Coco Collection specialises in creating true boutique luxury on some of the most beautiful islands in the Maldives. Since its launch in 2005, Coco Collection has crafted five-star destinations of different character and won awards for doing so with passionate flair. The company’s portfolio is comprised of luxury resort Coco Bodu Hithi and the environmentally conscious escape Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. Each is a haven for lovers of travel and style. Each celebrates traditional Maldivian architecture and ambiance. But each offers a distinct and extraordinary reality.

About Mbongeni Buthelezi:

Born in Kwazulu-Natal and raised in Springs, Buthelezi has moulded these worlds together and tries to make sense of his rural upbringing with an urban existence in his work.

After completing his studies at Funda Centre he enrolled for a teacher training programme at the Johannesburg Art Festival Foundation, which he completed in 1998. He then participated in the Standard Bank Art Festival as a guest artist. This was followed by studies at Witwatersrand where he graduated with an advanced Diploma in Fine Arts.

Using discarded plastics of a certain quality in melting process, he paints in impastos solid forms burnt with a heat gun onto a thick, roofing-plastic surface. He has created a new form of paint, a so-called plastic painting. His unique paintings are often larger than life. He is able to work realistically and abstractly, with the technique being extremely detailed.

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