David Mbele was born in Johannesburg in 1942. From an early age he developed an interest in art and sketched all aspects of township life around him. He spent his time after school copying cartoons from the newspapers. In 1958 he attended art classes at the Jubilee Art Centre under Cecil Skotnes and in 1959 he was encouraged to join the art class at Polly Street Center.
Mbele's work belongs to the genre of township art. The subject matter of his paintings is the life of the Black man in the cities, portrayed with individual figures or groups of figures. They are shown going about their everyday activities, for example reading a newspaper, selling and delivering milk, running errands, or enjoying a drink.
His figures are bold and big. He makes very little attempt at including finer detail in his pictures and he creates the human figure mainly through big circular and curvilinear forms. There is a considerable amount of bodily distortion in these figures, which at times contributes to the success with which he manages to express particular emotions or moods.
Mbele is a graphic artist producing etchings and linocuts. He works mainly in pastels, chalks and he prefers earthy colours such as shades of brown, ochre and yellow, with black, white and grey for emphasis.
Exhibitions : 1981 : Black Art Today Exhibition, Standard Bank Soweto
1979 : Contemporary African Art in SA (touring) 1975 : National Art Museum Botswana 1972 : Goodman Gallery solo exhibition 1987 : "African Art Images" - Natalie Knight, Hyde Park 1970 : Solo exhibition,University of Fort Hare 1961 : Solo exhibition,Adler Fielding Gallery (Johannesburg)