Khanyi’s 3D-soul

2011-04-16 18:33

Khanyi Mbau was moved to tears this week when she took delivery of a life-size unsolicited painting of herself from a 63-year-old Cape Town fan.

On Tuesday Mbau (25) unwrapped a monstrous 1.75-metre high painting that was dropped off at ZAR Club in Sandton.

The painting by Raphael Lusengu, who lives in Athlone but is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, depicts Mbau sitting on an elegant chaise in a long green strapless gown that flows on to a red Persian rug.

The City of Joburg is in the distance and there’s also a little bird on a pillar. Mbau’s face is lit up by her smile and her famous Brazilian hair weave as she shows off her jewellery, designer bag and throw.

The accessories in the painting – a necklace, rings, earrings and bracelet – are made of glass and crystals and are stuck on – giving it a 3D effect.

Mbau called in a curator from the Goodman Gallery in Rosebank and claims it was valued at R78 000.

Mbau has never met Lusengu, the father of 11 and pastor at the KingdomCentre in Blou­­­­berg­­­­­-strand in Cape Town.

“I will probably cry when I see him. He could have painted me sitting under a tree, but he got the aura right, look how regal this painting is.

It reflects the kind of grand living and opulence I have come to represent. I may not be seen as a positive role model but I can say that this gift is proof that my presence and existence have been noted,” she says.

The controversial queen of bling, famous for dating older rich men, says she took one look at the painting and knew it would occupy prime position in her Sandton house.

“I cried when I spoke to him on the phone as he told me that only God knows my true depth. I’ve been written off so many times and I keep coming up. This artwork is too deep, it’s alive.

“To say that I like this painting is an understatement. It’s my heartbeat on my wall.”

Lusengu says he has been painting for 45 years and was looking for a South African of great influence he could paint.

Lusengo has painted US stars such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Oprah Winfrey and former US president Richard Nixon.

He says work on the Mbau painting started in November last year. Last month he sent it to ZAR Club hoping the owners would locate Mbau.

“I read about her and I discovered that this lady has the depth that only God knows and no man can decipher.

I heard a lot about her from my daughters who love her so much, and I heard on the news that she is the queen of bling.

I wish I was rich and could afford real diamonds to make this the most expensive painting in the world,” he says.

“There’s a certain depth to that portrait.

God sees deep inside a human being.

The little bird is a representation of God who is standing outside and seeing this person’s holistic being. No one can know the inner person but God himself.”

Lusengu used magazine and newspaper photographs to get his depiction of Mbau just right.

Mbau plans to include the painting in her will as part of her four-year-old daughter, Khanu’s, inheri­tance.

» Mofokeng is writing Mbau’s official biography

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