Virtue From Necessity

Natalie Watermayer, Classic Feel Magazine | pp. 20-25, March 1, 2015

Carolynne Waterhouse got to appreciate the work of collage artists John Vusi Mfupi and Benon Lutaaya and began giving Mfupi back-copies of Classicfeel to use when she found that he loved the feel of our paper. Classicfeel’s Natalie Watermeyer spoke to John Vusi Mfupi, Mbongeni Buthelezi, and Benon Lutaaya about the art of collage. Nascent artists need materials. They also need space, not only work space, but also for storage, as John Vusi Mfupi discovered when

he first graduated. His solution was to replace paint with magazines, thus killing two birds with one stone: whereas canvases are bulky, paper collages can be packed flat and easily stored. ‘With collage, I’d make 20 artworks and stash them under my bed,’ he remembers.

‘I was only a couple of years out of the college, and it was tough getting going – no space, and I had to buy art materials – I started using magazines, because the only thing that I needed was colour.’ Mfupi has been working as an artist for more than a decade now, practising full time for several years. His work has taken him to several countries, he has appeared in numerous exhibitions and taken on several commissions. Nowadays, he has both studio space and sufficient income for materials, yet collage remains his medium of choice. Not only does the concept of recycling excite him, but working with magazines allows him to express and explore his delight in colour, while also introducing a random factor, an element of chance. Where most painters simply mix the hue they need, he is restricted by what is available. ‘That’s what makes it more exciting for me. I’m relying on what I have,’ he says. He delves into a calf-deep pool of torn paper, walled on two sides by stacked magazines, and pulls out promising shades, using fragments to build up his colours, much in the manner of a pointillist or an impressionist. His subject matter depicts life


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