CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES THROUGH ART
Written by: Xolani Shabalala
Stereotypes were put on public display when a Durban University of Technology (DUT) Fine Art graduate, Sakhile Mhlongo, hosted a solo exhibition at the institution’s Art Gallery last night.
Inspired by societal perceptions of males and females, Mhlongo painted a collection of portraits using everyday people he saw around campus to create artwork that will subvert the public’s stereotypical views of African men and women.
“My aim is to change the public’s stereotypes of African males and females within my culture. I paint like the female is submissive and I am actually questioning that because I don’t agree with that. I see it in a different way; women can be greater than what is believed about them,” said Mhlongo.
The audience comprised of students, lecturers and art lovers had a positive response about the collection of portraits. Thando Mbadi rejoiced at Mhlongo’s signature style of creating paintings using colour fabrics.
Heng Wang, a lecturer at DUT’s Fine Art Department, added that the exhibition was beautiful. Wang recognised some of students from her class in the portaits and pointed out that it was a great idea that Mhlongo used them as models for his artwork. Furthermore, she appluaded Mhlongo because “doing a solo exhibition is not an easy task”.
Mlungisi Myena emphasised the point that it is important to showcase young and upcoming artists so they can get recognition.
Mhlongo was part of the top five finalists in the Sanlam Portrait Awards. That opportunity has enabled him to expand his work.
*Picture: Audience members admiring Sakhile Mhlongo’s artwork