David Mbele

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David Mbele


David, just like Ben Macala, has developed a style that has become his unique trademark. His work can always easily be recognized in any collection. He developed a style that is easy going on the eye of the observer. The works are soft and gentle with a rare feeling of grace and dignity in them. Most of these paintings are created using pastel and charcoal. David works in very basic shades of brown, orange and black yet by utilizing just these basic colors he manages to capture the emotions of the subjects with a subtle skill. It is almost as if we are able to feel the mood of the people being portrayed in his art pieces. David uses the everyday activities of people that he sees around him as his subject matter. The compositions are remarkably simplistic in design yet they are extremely effective. They have a character of their own and although they are not realistic in design, they capture the gentleness, wisdom, patience, forgiveness and endurance of a people.

In almost all of the paintings done by David, the eyes of the people are closed. Being questioned on this matter he replied that it was a phenomenon that he experienced in contemporary African society. During the apartheid years the people continued doing what they had to do, whether it was reading a newspaper, playing cards, drinking some beer in a shebeen or just going about their normal daily life with their “eyes” closed, not meaning that they physically closed their eyes, but that they closed their eyes to the reality that they found themselves in.

They realized that there was nothing that they could do to change their world in a single day but rather that they had to be part of a much larger movement that would change their future. The African people found solidarity in oppression that went far beyond the cultural and tribal divides that separated the various tribes for such a long period of time. David recognized this common bond that existed between people and it became a focal point in his art. David himself is a very gentle person, and being of large frame, is often referred to as the gentle giant by friends and fellow artists. David has taught several younger artists at the small workshop that he shares with his fellow artist Godfrey Ndaba. He derives great pleasure from his art and has a passion for his people and country.

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