“I am fighting for humanity! We need to realize that we are all equal, before anything else.“
BERIT WARTA in conversation with painter and creator Banele Khoza.
Banele Khoza is the prime example that the African Renaissance is taking place. He is part of a youthful generation, spreading love, art and creativity all over the globe. Thanks to new media, this youth finally found a microphone to make their powerful voice heard. And what they say, sing, form or design, will leave you with nothing but exhilaration.
African fine artist Banele does not sing or dance himself, but he lets the colours and brushes swirl over white canvas. He makes sensual pink sway, baby-blue trip and invites green and yellow to a twist, trip, trap. Exploring identity and what it means to be a young artist in Africa, Banele talks male vulnerability, skin colour and his obsession with love.
„We are all deserving of this existence, space
and are worth belonging in it,
regardless of our gender, sexual identification,
skin colour or identity.“
If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.
What is it like to be part of the young generation in South-Africa?
It is truly incredible to be part of this young generation, we are more brave than ever – we are seeking alternative ways of being. We are not bound to what is deemed to be our path.
We apologize later.
Do you remember your first approach to art?
Yes, I was not aware I was making art, I knew I had unlocked a heaven of my own. Especially the works I made on school books that were meant for Math or Science. I got scolded at constantly for all of these. Creating was always at the forefront of my life and interests.
How would your friends or family describe you?
Hard working, focused, sincere and obsessed with Love.
Your art was on exhibition in Zeitz Mocaa – How did it change your path of life?
It gave me courage to execute my greater ideas, it was a stamp of approval to create my biggest artwork; BKhz.
You created the BKhz a gallery / shop / studio / artist and project space / let’s say a main interface for creative exchange.
What made you develop this Space?
The need of a home, I wanted my children (my art/creative ideas) to be sheltered before they take off.
The Western World still clings to the cliché that „Africa is a continent that needs to be saved“. Future trend research and African youth culture, talk another talk. What do you think the super-power, of the African youth is?
In my case, I see myself beyond being African, the internet has transformed my reach and thoughts. I watch global content – so I easily identify as a global citizen. That is why I am able to stay in my comfortable home and create from here.
„I wish to see artists
owning their narrative
their dreams into reality.“
Can you give us an insight, what it is like to be an artist, that is related to the Queer community, in Africa?
I am fighting for humanity! We need to realize that we are all equal, before anything else. We are all deserving of this existence, space and are worth belonging in it, regardless of our gender, sexual identification, skin colour or identity.
Let’s take a back journey in time: 25 years ago – Do you think, you could express yourself through art in the same way, as you are able to do it by today?
My soul operates beyond my physical/time limits, certainly – I would have.
Your work is beautiful, very deep and intimate. How do you experience male vulnerability and identity through art?
Thank you. First of all, I live out my life through my mediums of expression. I am a male who is genuinely in love with the colour pink, it is my equivalence of happiness and my soul’s colour – so I try to include pink everywhere – bearing in mind society would prefer me in a blue box. I am also someone who prefers being in the background, so my colours are muted (pastel) revealing my gentle, sensitive and quiet attributes.
Some of your work like ‚He wasn’t done looking‘ or ‚Look the other way‘ feels like you portray situations, which are familiar to a lot of people. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired by the life I lead – somehow I always find myself in sticky situations, life is constantly saying ‚LOL‘ at me or ‚babe that is not your path‘. In these situations I get to reflect.
Vincent Van Gogh said ‚I dream of painting and then I paint my dream‘. Let’s dream together: What is your wish for the future?
I wish to see artists owning their narrative and painting their dreams into reality. I wish to see BKhz grow with its immediate community and infiltrate spaces that we had never imagined possible.