Creating Spaces with South African Artist Banele Khoza
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Contemporary artist Banele Khoza opened his design workshop and art gallery BKhz Studio earlier this month at 68 Juta Street right off the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein. Describing the opening of this creative space as a "12 year prayer, dream and goal," Khoza sheds light on the significance of black ownership within a country fraught with historic racial inequity.
Swaziland-born Khoza is a sharp illustrator turned abstract painter. His eye is shaped by a poetry of thoughts and personal experiences that fall at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and identity. His latest body of work ‘Banele Khoza LGBTQI+’ currently up at Zeitz MOCAA Museum reveals a visual melange of rich textures that underscore the complexity of masculinity in today's digital-first society; in his own words, "an obsession with expression of the current state of affairs in human relations." A millennial pink palette punctuates his graphically emotional portraits of ink, charcoal, and acrylic paint.
A feature of today's creator class is the limitless approach to creative expression. By virtue of infinite touch points of connectivity, artists have naturally become multi-hyphenates placing their aesthetic touch to a broad array of commercial projects - from furniture-making and interior design to fashion photography and brand collaborations. Khoza's expression also takes shape beyond the canvas, with a yet-to-be-released clothing collaboration with Australian retailer Trenery and a jaunt in Paris taking pictures after the Virgil Abloh-led Louis Vuitton Men's SS19 show. His images seize the same fantastical energy of his paintings. capturing youthful exuberance of Africans in the streets of Paris as in Johannesburg.
A discerning look into Khoza's training reveals those early leanings into other sectors, particularly fashion; in fact, he studied one year at London International School of Fashion (LISOF) in Pretoria before transferring to a degree program in Fine Arts at Tshwane University of Technology. Since graduation, he has quickly racked up accolades, including purchased works by Zeitz MOCAA Museum, debut solo exhibitions in Germany and Cape Town, and honors from Barclays L'Atelier Gerard Sekoto and the South Africa Taxi Foundation.
The investment in a physical space, such as BKhz Studio, is a step in the right direction for owning the African narratives that deserve to be told. Khoza is making the meaningful contribution that will no doubt lead to a more vibrant creative community.