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Mpumelelo Buthelezi



Mpumelelo Buthelezi is a photographer and journalist who has exhibited throughout South Africa. He works with the Fair Picture organization where he serves as a journalistic photographer and on creative endeavors such as the Broken Villages project. 





The photographs are technically and compositionally well-executed, often conveying high contrast and figures interacting with their surroundings or themselves. He creates intimate scenes which convey a variety of emotions such as melancholiness, sensuality, joy, isolation, a sense of purpose, or even fashion poses. The variety of his subjects conveys a photographer whose true talent is in the timing of capturing the essential moment of the essence of the subject’s character. 





Mpumelelo moves the social impact people have such as their work regarding recycling and creating a cleaner environment via the Broken Villages project. His works are seldom staged, with the exception of his more performance-like photography, and often convey characters being themselves in front of his lens. 





One of his most interesting photographs contains a series called Muse which portrays a woman wearing nothing more than an open leather jacket and torn jean shorts. She is a sensual character with neutral lipstick, gold earrings, and a decorative hair braid. The woman stands above a setting which appears to be a rugged hillside staring at the viewer with a squint or in the distance. The series seems like a cross between fashion photography and performance art with how she is portrayed with her accessories and the interaction she has with a rough environment. 





Another fascinating photograph is the second image at the top of the article portraying a place called Orlando Power Park. A dusk scene of several figures in canoe boats paddling across what appears to be a lake or river. Compositionally, the photograph is brilliant as a perfect diamond shape conveys through the figures, the foliage, landscape in the background, and reflections in the water. The silhouettes are mysterious and reflect the tone of the dark ripples of the night water and deep, intense orange and red tones covering the photograph as the sun is about to set. 





Mpumelelo Buthelezi remains one of the most interesting photographers I have ever witnessed, he doesn’t merely capture the subject, his compositions, subject matter, and gritty realism conveys a purposeful approach to image-making. The fascinating approach to photography contains an intricate sense of timing and character. Through a variety of concepts, both staged and journalistic, Mpumelelo expresses contemporary photography at the helm of landscape, culture, and way of life. 












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