THEMBALETHU MANQUNYANA hails from the dusty streets of Kwazakhele in Gqeberha previously known as Port Elizabeth. Born in 1984 on the 3rd of September, he discovered his passion for art at a very young age and harnessed his skills of painting throughout his childhood and adolescent stage. He pursued his dreams by studying Art and Design at Port Elizabeth College from 2005-2006. Thereafter Fine Art (Sculpture) at Nelson Mandela University from 2007-2011. Thembalethu then proceeded with his art studies at Rhodes University from 2012-2013 attaining a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Art in Politics, Psychology, Art History, Visual Culture and Xhosa.
Whilst a student at Nelson Mandela University, Thembalethu was involved in a public mural at Zwide Stadium for Raga Bolo Smirnoff Tournament. In 2010, he collaborated with Port Elizabeth artist in NewNowNext Exhibition and was also part of the Arts and Teaching Initiative Public Project Sculpture for Sydenham Primary School. The project was entitled “Telling our Story”.
In 2011, when doing his 3rd year at Nelson Mandela University, together with class mates and B-Tech Sculptures student he worked with the MBDA to create the public sculpture Icons of Govern Mbeki, Ray Mhlaba, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and Lillian Ngoyi that are displayed at the Athenaeum in Central, Port Elizabeth.
While he was a student in Rhodes University, during the National Arts Festival in 2012, Thembalethu was the Gallery Assistant at the Albany Museum during which time he assisted Clare Menck with the curation of her solo exhibition.
Thembalethu was also involved in an exhibition of the renowned knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo of Maxhosa in Port Elizabeth in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 he started FreeForm Artist Movement Exhibition for all young up and coming artist to display their artworks around Port Elizabeth.
In 2015 he was part of the One Blood Festival Exhibition at the Grand Hotel in Port Elizabeth. Following this, he did an internship and Art Residence at the Warren Edition Studio in Cape Town. In the same year he featured Bently van Wyk, a Ceramic Artist in an exhibition of his at the Tramways Building in the heart of Nelson Mandela Bay.
Thembalethu concluded the year of 2015 by winning an award for the Most Promising Artist in the Eastern Cape at ARTEC’s Annual Exhibition.
In 2016, Thembalethu Featured Ayanda Mji a Ceramic Artist in an exhibition of his in Stellenbosch at the MOK Gallery, Muratie Wine Estate.
After his collaborations, Thembalethu finally produced his first solo exhibition at ARTEC in 2017 and also had another solo exhibition in Stellenbosch at the MOK Gallery, Muratie Wine Estate. In 2018 Thembalethu exhibited a show called Western “African Ideologies” at GFI Art Gallery Port Elizabeth. The same year 2018 Thembalethu showcased “Spirit of the Art” at Muratie Wine Estate Stellenbosch at MOK Gallery.
IN 2019 Thembalethu participated in a Group Showcase at the Basha Uhuru Youth Festival at Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg. In the same year Thembalethu got selected for Nando’s Creative Exchange and showcase at AVA Gallery in Cape Town. The following year 2020 he also showcased in a group Exhibition at 131 Gallery in Cape Town.
In October 2021 he had a solo exhibition Ingcingani – Voices from Within – at SPACE Modern in Hermanus.
Thembalethu lives and works in Sea Point.