Vuminkosi Zulu Biography

Vuminkosi Zulu




Born in Zululand at Mapumulo on November 24, 1948 Vuminkosi Zulu completed his Standard 7 education at Kranskop High School before enrolling at Rorke's Drift art school in 1971. He completed his course in 1972 but remained as a resident artist to 1974. In 1973 he was awarded the Hajee Sulman Ebrahim Memorial Trust award. He worked for a time with Mahlangu in the Transvaal before returning to Rorke's Drift again between 1976 and 1977. He is well-known for his etchings, but also for his carved sculptures. He created a monumental woodcarving entitled 'The Battle of Isandlwana' in 1982 for which he was awarded a sculpture prize. This piece is in the old KwaZulu parliamentary building in Ulundi.

Together with many of his colleagues his work was shown at the Brooklyn Museum's 'Black South Africa: Contemporary Graphics' exhibition in 1976 and in an exhibition that toured Germany in 1978 and 1979. In 1990 he received the Thupelo scholarship which allowed him to spend six months in Sweden. Before his death he worked at the Caversham Press in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. He acquired a small etching press. Zulu was interested in the human condition and often captured emotions, such as the fear of loneliness in his etchings on paper. Examples of his work can be seen in numerous South African and overseas collections. He was influenced by Shilakoe's work and experimented with aquatints to attack the plate in a sculptural way with heavy gouging and by simply wiping different colours across the plates. He was also a sculptor of note.

Vuminkosi was diagnosed with a tumour on his jaw which turned out to be malignant. Before he died on 14 November 1996 in the Edendale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, Vuminkosi requested that a posthumous exhibition be arranged that would generate some income for his wife and his five children, Sibusiso, Philile, Nkanyiso, and the twins Nhlanhla and Sinenhlanhla. Vuminkosi had always aspired to share his artistic knowledge and skills with younger artists. His local Inkosi, Khomba Ngubane, also nurtured the idea of a community museum that would preserve and exhibit examples of Vuminkosi’s work. Sadly, Vuminkosi’s untimely death seems to have thwarted any such plans.