I would like to refer the reader to a particular article on Artthrob Goodbye Billy Mandindi (1967-2005) by David Robert Lewis that sums up part of the life of Billy.
The life of Buyisile ‘Billy’ Mandindi is emblematic of so many artists of the ‘lost generation’ of the eighties. Isolated from the rest of the world by sanctions and a blanket ban on international cultural exchanges – a terrible boycott that ironically failed to distinguish between those who were actively rebelling against the system and those who were not – Mandindi managed to break with tradition for a brief while, bringing fame as well as notoriety. I will always remember him covered head-to-toe in sticky purple dye, the result of his participation in a landmark riot in Cape Town during 1989, and still cutting lino-board for a new work that would evoke the spirit of rebellion. Forever, the artist as social commentator, myth-maker and rapscallion. Much has already been said about this trickster quality, his down-and-out existence that lead him to the street as well as the hallowed halls of some of the finer art galleries in the country.
If this is too cruel a motion to contemplate, then let’s not forget that Billy Mandindi’s life was one of constant struggle, spent for the most part in abject poverty and psychological turmoil, circumstances that eventually lead to his death at an early age. Goodbye Billy, you will live in my thoughts forever.
Billy was a wild artist who lived in poverty, many folk tried to assist him in getting a more consistent income from his work. I believe that had he lived in a more friendly and fair current South Africa, he would have ecelled as on of the top artists. Billy died to poor and too young from a preventable death. Billy’s work and his contribution is incredibly underrated and his fame is still yet to rise.
From: Goodbye Billy Mandindi (1967-2005) by David Robert Lewis. The life of Buyisile ‘Billy’ Mandindi. Artthrob.co.za