Simphiwe Mbunyuza's sculpture explores relationships and interactions within African cultural symbolism and cultural day to day objects used by African groups, particularly Xhosa people. These objects are the subject of functional and non-functional ceramic and sculptural pots. The drama carried by the pots entails and details the African culture of Bantu speaking people, in relation to other African cultural groups. Mbunyuza grew up in South Africa, Eastern Cape Province, Butterworth in the village called Mambendeni, an area surrounded by various villages of Xhosa speaking people. Today, these villages are no longer exclusively occupied by Xhosa speaking people but by a number of different African cultural groups.
Mbunyuza’s masterful practice of richly textured ceramics brings together a diverse array of materials, including stoneware, leather, fabric, and steel. In the creation of his ceramics, the artist pays particular attention to the surfaces of his sculptural works, incorporating bold areas of color and graphic two- and three-dimensional patterns and designs on his distinctive forms. Working with clay as his primary medium, Mbunyuza adapts practices and techniques that are of personal significance to the artist’s background, such as the use of a coiling technique in his ceramics that was employed by the Xhosa people for centuries to make pots. In ISIBAYA, Mbunyuza's work portrays the values and importance of cultural elements from these groups, drawing from both present and historical influences as a method of sharing the artist’s heritage through a unique, contemporary lens.
Simphiwe Mbunyuza (b. 1989) was born in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, South Africa, and lives and works in Norman, OK. Mbunyuza has been the subject of exhibitions in the United States and internationally, including recent presentations with Marianne Boesky, Aspen, Colorado; Dyman Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa; South Willard, Los Angeles, CA; and Gallery 1957, London and Accra, Ghana; and is the recipient of awards and residencies including the Red Clay Faction Award and Oscar Jacobson Award from The University of Oklahoma, Fred Jones Museum, Norman, OK in 2019, and a residency with A.I.R Vallauris, France, in 2017.