Born in 1970 in Eshowe, Bongi Bengu left South Africa in 1978 when her family went into political exile. Her schooling was in Switzerland and Swaziland. She obtained a BA in Fine Arts, Cum Laude from Mount Vernon College in Washington D.C. in 1993, and subsequently returned to South Africa, graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in 1997. She has exhibited widely and has been the recipient of a number of residencies abroad.
Bengu’s work has been described as social commentary about her life as a black/African woman, and a black woman artist. In her early works Bengu worked mainly in collage, drawing upon images from popular media, playing with the pervasive representations. In the later years Bengu has moved towards more subtle forms of expression. Her paintings have moved from the specific and more towards a form of expression where light, dark and texture have replaced the more literal expressions – a freedom where the narrative can be submerged and the essence can be explored.