Mzwandile Buthelezi is a Johannesburg-based multidisciplinary artist born in Soweto in 1981. He is renowned for the singularity of his illustrations, which bring together jazz and art in a piercing way that reaches both the spirit and mind. Mzwandile’s distinct artistic language results in artworks that are in dynamic conversation with musical compositions. He is a seasoned scholar of jazz, artistic disruption and an enabler of new narratives that usurp the expected and lift us above the tired framings of our current and future identities as Africans in the global consciousness. Mzwandile’s artworks broker a dialogue between present and future, the ancestral past in a parallel dialogue with the past awoken and the future as a reality unfolding. In this way, he lifts and shifts us away from the confines of our narrow existence and delivers us into the new place of entanglement. Known for his striking jazz album cover artworks, Mzwandile has worked with some of the best jazz musicians, which include Nduduzo Makhathini, Thandi Ntuli, Mandla Mlangeni, Shabaka Hutchings, Salim Washington, and Benjamin Jephta, to name a few. He is also part of a three-piece band with fellow band members Tumi Mogorosi and Pule Pheto. In the band, Buthelezi creates improvised artworks through which he interprets the live music. The artist consistently returns to circular forms in his practice. In Euclidean Geometry, the circle is considered to be a shape with an infinite amount of sides, making it one of the most highly complex shapes known to man. The human condition and perspective saves us and helps the circle appear less complex and smooth without any edges. The jazz circles of Johannesburg can be considered just as complex, there is what we see, and then there is the truth. but Mzwandile Buthelezi, Graphic Designer and illustrator hovers above these Jazz circles and from his perspective draws his own circles, circles that turn to images, images that draw attention to a genre surviving because of both a barely-enough-kinda-love and a pretentious admiration from likers of finer things. Mzwandile’s process of creation involves first drawing a circle, and from that everything else is derived, a representation of the cosmic egg from which all creation oozed. “Most, if not all pieces I create begin with a circle, as humans we draw so much of our energy from circles” he says, “The sun, our earth, the celestial bodies around … it’s that energy I prefer to tap into.”
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