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Don't Throw Away your plastics Anymore, Meet The Artist who Converts Plastic to Beautiful Artworks

At first glance, these stunning portraits from South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi may look like drawings or oil paintings, but they’re actually made from discarded plastic.


The Melrose Gallery in Johannesburg recently held a solo-exhibition by South African artist Mbogeni Buthelezi, showcasing the plastic painter’s ‘Sugar Tax’ collection.

‘Sugar Tax’ questioned the prevalence of branded soft drinks that litter the environment and have been blamed for various health problems.

By manipulating pieces of recycled plastic with a heat gun and infusing his canvas with water colors, Buthelezi brings portraits and abstract compositions to life in a style that gives the illusion of an oil painting.

“To put up this exhibition is just a way of saying to people — let’s talk about this, let’s have a dialogue around all these issues that the government is coming out with, because you know, with my work, it’s not only you know the “sugar tax” that one is trying to bring up, but also you know, the environment element you know, and how my work contributes towards recycling and all these things, I mean the whole idea is about recycling. But now if these two things are not properly managed, you know, they might be problematic you know, to us as the society you know, because sugar, part of it if it is not enough or if it is not controlled, properly controlled, it is problematic and yet my body needs it,” said Buthelezi.

Buthelezi says growing up in a poor background, plastic was readily available and he could easily collect and play around with it.

He then discovered his rare technique in his last year of art school in the 90s as he tried to move away from traditional mediums.

Buthelezi can use about 5,000 pieces of plastic for a single piece of artwork.

The artist wants to draw attention to plastic waste and its effects on the environment, but also uses watercolours to create a well balanced composition.

Buthelezi was inspired by plastic as a medium early in his career, when he could not afford oil paint after moving to Johannesburg to pursue his art.

Now, nearly 20 years later, the resourceful artist has evolved his technique of “painting” with plastic waste and is able to achieve effects that make his pieces look similar to oil paintings, pencil drawings and wood After carefully selecting the right pieces of plastic debris from local recycling yards in Johannesburg, Buthelezi returns to his workshop to transform them into works of art.

Using heat lamps, he melts the plastic to bring it to a state in which it can be manipulated. To complete his portraits, he attaches hot pieces of plastic waste to each other and the canvas — creating the illusion of brush strokes or carvings.

Sometimes, the artist uses as many as 5,000 pieces of plastic to complete a single piece.

“I consider color. I consider the text sometimes that I get from these materials, because in a sense it brings a very interesting design element into my work,” Buthelezi told VOA News. “I play around with it to come up with whatever message that I want to bring forward.”

See Other Great Artworks by him.

Content created and supplied by: DedeEtuk (via Opera News )

Johannesburg Mbogeni Buthelezi Mbongeni Buthelezi Melrose Gallery Sugar


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