Zinhle Zulu is my name. However, I go by the pseudonym ‘Zhi Zulu’ as an artist. ‘Zhi’ means will, knowledge, wisdom, purpose- what I try to express in my work.

I was born in Kwa-Zulu Natal. I moved to Johannesburg when I was still an infant and I’ve been living here ever since. I grew up in a family of academic excellence and by default I became a nerd. Nonetheless, was always curious about and fascinated with art. I started taking art seriously when I was 12 years old. It was a therapy method for my scoliosis diagnosis at the time. Since then I’ve been in love with it. I grew up being referred to as a ‘coconut’ through out my childhood by my distant relatives due to my inability to speak my language properly (and knowing English very well). The irony behind it is that my surname is ‘Zulu’ so I started to discover my culture.

I decided to pursue art as a career by attending The Open Window institute. A constant theme in my work is African culture. As I discovered it, I took more pride in it. I attained my degree in visual communication with a major in Illustration. I now work full-time as a graphic artist at an NGO called OUTA. I had my first exhibition, “Public Telephone” at the MB community gallery earlier this year. I have done freelance work for Kitcheners, Between 10 and 5 and I am currently working on a business venture to raise funds to continue with post-graduate studies.

I was recently nominated for a Loerie student award this year for a short story I wrote and illustrated called ‘The beginning of time- an African Tale’. I use creativity to express knowledge, learn new information and to evolve spiritually.

“Vusamazulu”:
This is an image from ‘The beginning of time- an African tale’. This image is of a man by the name of Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa. He is a sangoma (traditional healer), artist and author who has a different perspective from the norm of how time and space began. Mutwa states that his purpose is to awaken the Zulus to the knowledge that he attained from his ancestors. This short book serves to illustrate my take on his perspective of how life in the world started.
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“Actually”:
This illustrates the coming to know the truth and facts of the negative situations in which the world is placed in . It expresses understanding of the true nature of society’s evils and feeling as if there is nothing that can be done about it. Although that’s not totally true, however, it was my feeling at the time. The drawn figure is still presenting an African aesthetic despite his woes. The underlying message is that with the discovery of true knowledge comes suffering but the gift is wisdom.
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“Muthanga the pumpkin man”:
This is an artwork for a group exhibition called “Trick or treat” that I am currently participating in. “Ithanga” in Zulu means pumpkin. Pumpkin’s are the symbol for Halloween for a different reason but I wanted to create my own. The man who I named ‘Muthanga’ is the pumpkin man who is dressed in African attire here, creating a mystery to him. This touches on ‘black magic’ and all its unknowns, how it is seen as dark and evil because society is not familiar with it. He has a story for why pumpkins became the symbol for Halloween…I’m still working on it.
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