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Bonolo Kavula

South Africa

Bonolo Kavula

Born 1992 in Kimberley, South Africa Bonolo Kavula works and lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She obtained a BA(FA) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art (University of Cape Town) majoring in Printmaking in 2014.

Kavula works in print media, video work, comic art as well as painting and has recently used performance art as a new artistic expression by creating an art persona called Black Mona Lisa. Black Mona Lisa debuted her music video titled, Messy, which was featured in the Zeitz MOCAA exhibition ‘The Main Complaint’ in 2018. Her main artistic practise is centred around printmaking and makes use of found materials and non-conventional installation modes to challenge the traditions of Printmaking.

Kavula has also recently lent her voice to stand up comedy as a means to critique the art world through humor. Her first stand up routine was held at blank projects in August 2018.

Her video piece titled, You must be exhausted was a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition (2014). She has also been part of various group exhibitions including Burr: Print and Purpose (Print Portfolio) and iQhiya Group Exhibition at AVA Gallery (Cape Town: 2016); New Monuments at Commune 1 (Cape Town: 2016); 3 881 days, blank lab and Furniture at Blank Projects (Cape Town: 2015, 2016) and the Sasol New Signatures at the Pretoria Art Museum (Pretoria: 2011).

Kavula has been awarded the 2014 Katherine Harries Print Cabinet Award at University of Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa) and her works are part of the Works of Art Committee collection also at the University of Cape Town.

Bonolo is an artist with Suburbia Contemporary Art based in Granada, Spain and Cape Town, South Africa.

Featured Work


Black Monalisa

Bonolo Kavula

The idea of creating a black female rap persona is both artistic and political. Black Mona Lisa, exists as a hyper visible black female body ‐ she wears her lips bright and paints her nails pink, her hair is worn long and the words in her lyrics are unapologetic. This creation of a black woman who holds nothing back came from a need to see exactly that; particularly in the art world. We have come a long way as far as transformation is concerned in the South African art scene but there are yet many more black women who are yet to occupy space.

Having been a part of a collective of the first all‐black woman artist collective in South Africa, iQhiya, I have been made even more conscience of how necessary our voices are as well as our vital contribution to the arts today. Black Mona Lisa as a character is inspired by black women in mainstream media and popular culture. Her name is taken from Leonardo da Vincis’s
famous painting The Mona Lisa. Reference is also made to Jackson Pollock’s fame as Black Mona Lisa compares herself to him saying she aspires to be just as famous. The tile of the song “messy” takes a dig at Pollocks artistic signature in the way that he dripped paint on his canvas. Black Mona Lisa points out the names of established and successful black artists with her focus being on South African artists. The first verse in her song mentions notable names and is followed by a statement that she
wants to be just like the artists she refers to as “famous”.

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