• Truth Telling by Mondli “The Artivist” Kunene | South Africa

    EAS is pleased to feature this exceptional artist and educator whose work and mixed-media paintings aim to foster social change.

    'My Brother's Keeper' | Acrylic paint
    'When the Boys in Blue Came We Still Sang' | (2020) Acrylic Paint and Plaster Dust

    I am Mondli “The Artivist” Kunene, born in Soweto.  I grew up with influence from Soweto and the Vaal triangle, which is where I am currently residing, Daleside, Randvaal near Meyerton in South Africa. My pathway to becoming an artist started at an early age, as I was influenced by my late uncle from my paternal side. From my maternal side, my mother and late grandmother were clothing designers.  When I was in the eighth grade, I started painting daily, everything from cartoons to famous

    'There's Gold in Them Hills' | Acrylic paint

    musicians and actors.

    My goals, beliefs, influences, themes and practices as an artist are entirely linked because, from an early age, I grew up listening to a lot of good music, reading encyclopedias, keeping abreast of current affairs locally and abroad, as well as researching about South African history that is not published or prescribed for high school textbooks.  My aim is to focus on the exposure of the truth and the reasons why a lot of truths are hidden from the masses.

    'How to Tap Dance on Your Mom's Neurons' | Acrylic paint

    Because I studied to become an educator, I also influenced my former learners at the time to probe and search for the truth, instead of taking things at face value.  Later on I would incorporate this teaching element into my process of creating Mondliart®, as my work is based on factual truths hidden, metaphors and symbolism. Now that I have grown, not only as individual but as an Artivist, I look up to three people, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and my late mentor Speelman Mahlangu, nephew of Dr. Esther Mahlangu¹.

    'Psalm 23' | Acrylic paint

    Mondliart® is created using acrylic paint, Warthog tusks, ostrich and crocodile leather mostly. Those mediums are part of the Mondliart® signature look, but  I also use oil paint.  My process is unique in that I don't draw background sketches as a guideline of what  the actual painting is supposed to look like in the end.  I paint free hand from start to finish; however, my technique & style, which I refer to as #BrushStrokesFromTheFuture, involves me painting circles and lines. That  is how I manipulate the eye of the viewer and the material I am using to make Mondliart® pieces look the way they look.

    'Umuntu Omdala Kimi, Kuwe yi Garden Boy (He Is an Elder to Me,Yet a Garden Boy to You)' | Acrylic paint and platinum dust
    'Hou Koers' | (2020) Acrylic paint, plastic dust and face mask

    I am working on a new body of work as the demand for Mondliart® grows. I was supposed to be exhibiting at the Venice Biennial art exhibition but, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, I could not.  I am also preparing for an overseas artist residency and locally, when I get an opportunity to collaborate, I am available.

    Currently I am in the process of establishing the Mondliart®® Hub, which will be beneficial to artistically inclined youth.  During my tenure as an educator, I saw that most of the so called “problematic learners” are the

    .Rorisand Praise Maphosa - (Left)Mentee from Pretoria holding his coloured pencil drawing about the lockdown restrictions and coronavirus deaths faced by South Africans. | (Right) Rorisand holding another colour pencil drawing of the South African president.

    ones that are highly creative.

    The setup of the orthodox way of traditional education is not working for them as far as stimulation and creativity is concerned.

    Mentoring came naturally, as I am an educator and my name in English translates to “the Sustainer”.  With my students, I have been facilitating and mentoring them via social media.  I also link them to opportunities like artists open calls, so that they can participate and grow. With the Mondliart® Hub, at least I will be able to accommodate and also employ other young qualified

    'A Dream Deferred' | (2020) -Acrylic paint with ostrich leather

    creatives to assist me.

    My mentees are from a range of cities in South Africa, including Pretoria, Vaal and Potchefstroom. They work in pencil, charcoal, and multimedia. From me they are learning not only how to refine their skill but also to treat themselves as brands. I am learning from them that South Africa has so much untapped potential as far talent is concerned.

    My hopes for the future evolve around creating more potently original thought-provoking

    'Nyuku Don't Make a Man' | Acrylic paint and bank notes

    Mondliart® pieces and developing a clientele from overseas, as I am currently building rapport for myself as an art brand overseas.  Furthermore, I am hoping to establish the Mondliart® Hub and let it be self-sufficient.  Lastly, for my mentees, I hope they grow in character and in their craft, and protect their own voices as a form of their expression, as I have helped them to find their own style that will distinguish them from their peers.




    'My Mama Was a Soldier, My Dad's Still a Joker' | Acrylic paint

    About the Artist

    Mondli Kunene was born in Emndeni, Soweto and is now based in Daleside, Randvaal. He attended the University of Johannesburg, received a Bachelor of Education and worked as an educator teaching social science, technology, economic management science and life orientation.  
    Mondli has no formal or informal art training.  His ninth grade Afrikaans educator turned colleague and friend, also a knife maker, influenced the style and technique he uses to create his artwork. Mondli prefers being addressed by his first name or as The Artivist, as his Mondliart® pieces are not only about art aesthetics but rather about creating narratives that the masses need to  engage in.  He paints high quality thought-provoking pieces, raising awareness about social contentious issues within South Africa, the African continent and how they resonate towards the rest of the world. 
    Mondli’s work has been featured by the media and shown in numerous venues in South Africa.  You can see and learn more about his work on Instagram: @mondliart; Facebook: Hang a Mondli on your Wall; and on his website/blog.

    ¹Kayne West is an American rapper, record producer, and fashion designer who has been responsible for cultural movements and musical progressions within mainstream hip-hop and popular music  |  Dr. Dre is an American rapper, record producer, audio engineer, record executive, entrepreneur, and actor  |  Speelman Mahlangu (1958-2004) was a South African postwar and contemporary painter  |  Esther Mahlangu is a South African artist from the Ndebele nation known for her bold large-scale contemporary paintings that reference her Ndebele heritage.