For our November cover issue, we feature none other than the multi- disciplinary visionary Fhatuwani Mukheli. From Art to Film to the business of restaurants. The contentious creative shares his key to success.
We are all familiar with the famous Mark Twain quote that utters,” Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. An uncanny embodiment of this renowned phrase is Fhatuwani Mukheli. A formidable force who stormed into the industry over a decade ago, the altruistically successful artist has been able to master a myriad of crafts accredited to his profound proclivity for being an artist.
Without initially defining his own capabilities as finite professions, the multi-disciplinary artist has witnessed success as a photographer, producer, visual artist, DJ, entrepreneur and most recently — a restauranteur.
Born in Soweto, Fhatuwani’s spark for art was ignited as young as seven (7) years old when he saw his father paint a portrait of him and his twin brother Justice Mukheli. Ironically, his childhood was filled with memories of art that his parents used to create of which they used to consider just mundane tasks. However unbeknownst to them, were artistic masterpieces. “My mom used to make clothes, like the designs you’d see on Maxhosa’s runways which really are pieces of art. To her it was just clothes she made for us to wear, to be warm in. She never once called it art. When I saw my father draw that portrait of my brother and I, it was so normal to him, he didn’t think much of it.”
Fhatuwani’s background growing up in South Africa’s most thriving township, one seeped in diverse culture and history, shaped his inspiration. Drawing from the infectious plangency of his environment, Fhatuwani retained an almost Wabi-Sabi philosophy. “My work focuses on showcasing the beauty in things that some might not consider beautiful. Everyone has a story. Someone might see a picture of a child with a snotty nose running around in the street but there is a story behind that child.”
A singularly unsettling observation the artist discerned in his days working in the advertising industry as an art director at FCB, was that the narratives portrayed about black identity, in a white dominated media industry, were often misrepresented. As a man of action, the artist established the creative collective, ‘I See A Different You’ alongside his filmmaker twin brother Justice Mukheli, childhood friend and business partner Vuyo Mpantsha and former mentor turned close companion, advertising maven Neo Mashigo.
Through their photography blog, the Soweto-born creative collective sort out to change the world’s view of Africa – from the negative to the positive. What started off as them sharing photographs of themselves adorned in vintage garments in the streets of Soweto catapulted them into acclaimed heights that saw them travel the African continent producing various content, exhibiting their photography in places as far as Tokyo and honing their storytelling skills to collaborate with global brands.
Steadfast in his pursuit to transform the gaze of the harmfully stereotypical “African poverty porn” narrative. Fhatuwani made a promise to himself that his return to actively practicing fine art would be with the hopes to celebrate the beauty drenched African continent. Best known for his illustrative portraitures, he now sells his works to local and international markets and continues to revolutionise the South African creative space. Using mediums ranging from paint and charcoal on canvas and paper, his signature style embraces surrealism using elements of cross hatching and graphic lines, reminiscent of a retro idiom.
Check out our full interview with our November cover star Fhatuwani Mukheli exclusively on SA Creatives: https://youtu.be/dGuEUu4ses8
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