Mthobisi Maphumulo was born in 1988 at Imfume on the KZN South Coast, South Africa.
When he was at school he wanted to study art but was encouraged by his family to study electrical engineering. He dropped out after two years to pursue his passion for art.
Maphumulo is the founder of Amasosha Art Movement, a vibrant collective of Durban artists that promotes hard work, solidarity, and collaboration of ideas amongst artists.
His work is a critique of the social construction of communities. He is interested in examining the inhumane and mechanical processes that result in class stratification and the perpetual widening of inequality. His work also challenges the notion of industrialization as a signifier for development and a better life. In Maphumulo’s community, this has become a symbol of family displacement, land dispossession and exploitation impacting drudgery and the environment. Issues of identity and dignity are imperative his my work, particularly when looking at industrial laborers; identity in relation to inhuman industrial safety gear that they wear daily to serve the economy.
Maphumulo examines this identity transformation and what the parallels are, if any, with the African masks. African masks are known to transform the identity of the wearer for the purpose of serving the ritual. Has safety gear replaced African masks as identity transforming agents in serving the modern day industrial rituals?
Maphumulo enjoys working with oil pastel as a medium of expression because it comes from oil, and oil is one of the minerals that influence the economy and the presentation of our identity. Oil pastel is also a medium that artists commonly use when sketching their ideas or develop painting layers on top of it. “However, I choose to do complete works with it because I associate its fragility with that of my environment.”