When he was 12 years old Fortune Bengu drew a picture of his granny sleeping. This signalled the start of a passionate love affair with art.
Now, at age 26, Bengu is an award-winning artist who has exhibited as far afield as Italy, Brazil and the United States. He recognises, however, that not all emerging artists are as fortunate as him. Many hail from disadvantaged backgrounds and don’t understand the business side of art.
That’s where he steps in, helping these artists to complete funding applications, write proposals, and market themselves. He also regularly curates exhibitions featuring their work and even runs art workshops for them.
Thanks to Bengu, some of them are now represented by reputable galleries, while others are benefiting from overseas residencies. In 2014, he launched Hidden Treasures, a project that encourages older artists not to give up, showcasing them to wider audiences.
It also gives them the opportunity to share their skills with the youth through workshops. “My passion for art stems from my desire to improve the KwaZulu-Natal community, but also to bring life into the souls of young black children who grow up accepting what is given to them instead of fighting for what they deserve,” says Bengu.
Find Bengu on Twitter: @ShaboBengu