There is something daring about art when it becomes a personal reflection; when it’s thematic considerations are meditations of its maker on themselves. This mode of working which is a tenant of contemporary art is a brave leap as the artist leads the viewer into a personal space both in imagery and a nuanced psychology of the self. If the body of work produced in this frame of mind sees the artist sharing personal anecdotes with the viewer through art making discourses then the viewer can be seen as accessing what can be akin to a memoir through a strewn body of a work that represents a ‘particular period’ in the artist’s life and career.
The reader should note that I am saying that the memoir access that they will be subjected to with regard to the artist only represents a ‘particular period’ in the artist’s life because surely the artist focus, if they are constantly searching for new forms of artistic expressions, will shift in time and come to bare on something else
Banele Khoza was a preteen living in Swaziland when Marlene Dumas, a South African based in Amsterdam, painted Moshekwa, 2006, a bruise-colored expressionist study of artist Moshekwa Langa. Khoza saw the portrait in 2008, the same year he moved to South Africa, and credits it with inspiring him to be a painter. His journey to reaching this goal was indirect: After completing high school he studied fashion, immediately hated it, and a year later enrolled in a fine-art degree. “Temporary Feelings,” an emotional showcase of recent paintings and works on paper that record his search for love and belonging in a carnal world, is his debut solo exhibition following his graduation in 2015. Khoza’s fifteen acrylic paintings, most of them portrait studies, are his strongest suit.
The artist cannily uses color to evoke his rudimentary figures. Union Pub (all works cited, 2016), a study of six human figures rendered in gradations of blue and red, describes a desperate hook-up at a local gay club. Fixated, a study of an ambiguously gendered torso created from cascades of blue, is the closest Khoza comes to resembling Dumas, whose figurative virtuosity he eschews in favor of cartoonish imprecision. Khoza’s watercolor-like handling of acrylic is evident when compared to a display of his actual small watercolors; they are strewn across a bed placed at the center of the gallery. This neatly orchestrated installation, Our Bed, belies the artist’s age, twenty-two, and his need to both declare and overcome his influences, which here is namely Tracey Emin’s My Bed, 1998. It is a flippant gesture, but so is painting a yellow-faced Caucasian emoji and titling it Move On, when clearly the heart doesn’t want to.
Banele Khoza is undoubtedly an emerging South African artist to watch; before he had even left university, the Tate panel in Africa had begun to acquire his work and at the age of 22 he holds multiple accolades, including being selected for Lizamore & Associates’ Johannes Stegmann Mentorship Programme, where he is currently under the guidance of Colbert Mashile. Khoza has just completed exhibiting work at the Turbine Art Fair and recently opened up his first solo-exhibition titled Temporary Feelings.
Temporary Feelings is a personal confessional, a diary left open to the audience, containing unfiltered observations of all the messy, confused, and distracted surges of desire and fear that humans emit between themselves. This exhibition pries open all the awkward dissonance of a hyper media-ted existence through a brazenly disproportioned and unedited amalgamation of digital-traditional techniques, refracting multiple ‘inappropriate’ colour associations and lines that cannot contain. We all get lonely but we’re not supposed to talk about it… this work offers up a body you can touch and lovingly unhinges these taboos of emotion and of vulnerable masculinity, in order to open a door that the complexity of a person could actually appear through. Unspectacular isolation is rendered remarkable through a subversion of superficial, representational humanity- with the collected articulations blushing in the gap between the immensity of what people feel and the constraints of what they’re ‘supposed to’ exhibit.
Banele Khoza grapples with short sharp emotions in his solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum. Entitled ‘Temporary Feelings,’ the exhibition is very personal, yet critically engaging with issues of relationships, communication, social media and sexuality. He brings his vulnerability into the gallery space: what it means to be lonely, even though surrounded by people.
“With the Temporary Feelings, I acknowledge that feelings are something that are in a constant flux, that what you feel today will be totally different tomorrow,” he says.
The gallery space is full of satisfying colour with bold visible brush marks and flat washes of pastel hues. The works are mostly portraits but they are abstracted, ghostly and childlike, embodying a sense of sadness.
The art of Banele Khoza is exquisite, unruly and just enough of weird. Born in Swaziland, the Pretoria-based illustrator and creative consultant founded his artistic brand, BKhz, when he was 18. Now 22, Khoza is making a name for himself in South African art circles. At the 2016 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg, Khoza added his own spin on traditional fashion show coverage with a series of digitized illustrations of his SAFW highlights. In March, he was selected to participate in the prestigious Lizamore’s Johannes Stegmann Mentorship programme, where he’s been paired with South African painter and printmaker Colbert Mashile.
This weekend, Khoza makes his solo exhibition debut at the Pretoria Art Museum. On view through 4 September, Temporary Feelings features a series of ghostly works in watercolour and sharper digital illustrations. We caught up with Khoza over Skype ahead of the show’s opening.
Rapidly making his mark on the contemporary art scene, former TUT’s fashion student Banele Khoza has turned his attention to Fine Art. With clear fashion sensibilities reflected in his work, Zeitz and a few other international collectors have been eyeing his work for some time, and in July, The Pretoria Art Museum will host his first solo exhibition.
[Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Good morning Banele Khoza]/[Banele Khoza: Hello Mmutle, how are you?]/[Mmutle AK: I am very well thank you, uhm welcome to Intraparadox, ehh I am glad you were able make time and see me ahead of your exhibition at the art museum which has something to do with your feelings, but we get to that point ehh towards the end of our interview. How are you doing man?]/[Banele K: I am good,
sorry, I am pretty…I am good. I think for me it is such a huge honor for me for this to be happening cause you have mentioned so many times that you will be interviewing someone, interviewing someone and, I think the past years when I heard I was like, ….yoh, I wish I could be in that spot as well, just the same exhibition I think when I saw Vusi’s one last year I was like …woh… I wish I could do this. So for me, I think I am really excited that it has come to my side as well.]/[MAK: Well I am glad to hear that because everybody has a fair chance to show to the world their artistic contribution and I think for someone who works hard like yourself ehh this is a well deserved opportunity. And ehh maybe we can even say that, as they say, things happen at the right time and at the right moment. Yah uhm with the formalities out of the way I just want us to go back to the beginning of your life so that we can sketch your portrait. Uhum where were you born?]
Banele Khoza creates ghostly works in watercolour and sharper, yet still surreal, digital illustrations. The up-and-coming artist originally pursued a path in fashion, studying for one year at LISOF in Pretoria. However, during the illustration classes he realised he’d much prefer to spend his days drawing and went on to study fine art at the Tshwane University of Technology instead.
Having just completed his BTech at TUT, Banele plans to spend 2016 practising as a full time artist while experimenting with style and subject matter. Though his images contain elements of escapism and fantasy, they speak to his own experiences – primarily in relation to identity issues and the way gender is presented and performed.