Intraparadox: an interview with Banele Khoza

Temporary Feelings

23 March 2016

 

[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,

{clears throat}

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?]

BKhz: I was actually born in Swaziland in a very small town called Hlathikhulu and yah…that was back in ’94 and yah Hlathikhulu 

{smiles}

MAK:  So in the lexicon of contemporary South Africa you are a born free

BKhz: …yes…

MAK:  even though you were born in Swaziland

BKhz: {laughs}

Yes a born free

MAK:  yes

BKhz: but I think what’s amazing uhm for someone that’s  coming from Swaziland…

MAK:  Yes?

BKhz: you are literary born free because the issues of anything else, like, you are not aware of them until you come through this side and, this idea of born free and you wonder like, ‘what was happening?’ I mean you know what happened before but to actually get that idea that you are born free it’s… it’s a struggle

MAK:  Its not, how can we put it? …it’s a surprise

BKhz: (laughs) it’s a surprise

MAK:  yah because as far as your memory can serve you did not have walls surrounding you

BKhz: No, I mean I was born to TV and like, I could watch TV and I don’t think there was any propaganda I was exposed to or anything like that

MAK:  Alright

BKhz: Yah

Mmtle AK: Where did you first come into contact with art?

Banele Khz:  Art?

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: yes   

Banele Khoza: I think the first time around was with my cousin, …actually my brother – my older brother, I would find sketches of his in the wardrobe, in his wardrobe, because I would snoop through and see what he has and I think that’s when mhum I was keen to know how to do that as well but then he did not take it that far so my cousin actually was someone who actually tried to draw and then so it was actually something that I could also try to do to try to have a conversation with them but then all of them they were, it was something that they actually tried to develop and drop like any other kid and I think for me watching tv as well like cartoons it broaden my mind to see that there is actually more to the world than what we see, what we are exposed to in our immediate environment. So I think that’s where my interest in art came through  that actually there is a world further and that’s actually, like, aspired to do, like just to see beyond my world

 

00:05:15

 

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong:  So television played a role ehh it was actually an add on if we think about your brother and your cousin. So in a way you attribute your interest in the visual art as your initial interest in the visual art to your brother and your cousin, what was your brother’s name, what is your brother’s name

Banele Khoza: It’s Sibusiso Khoza

Mmutle AK: Oh Sibusiso Khoza  

Banele Khz: yah I think it is television and magazines because I’d also read a lot of celebrity magazines like People Magazine

MAK: uhum  

BKhz: So yah I think that’s when the idea of Hollywood and what it comes with and like that’s what got me into it

MAK:  Oh, so you…popular media to be precise

BKhz: to be precise I think so yes

MAK:  yes and, and, and tell me your cousin, what is his name?

BKhz: It’s Sandile Khoza

MAK: Sandile Khoza, did he live with you guys at your home or did you visit him?

BKhz: I’d visit him, he stayed in my father’s other house. The funny thing is that I’d ask him to ‘show me the ropes’ of drawing and he wasn’t really interested it was his own personal thing and yah.

MAK:  huh

BKhz: But then I think another thing is that I wanted to play with like Barbie dolls

MAK:  {laughs}

BKhz: {giggles}

and because my parents would not allow me to do that

MAK:mhum…

BKhz: uhm I actually started drawing Barbies like dolls, actually it wasn’t more dolls I would draw humans from the magazine but then dress them up, like I would copy their clothes. Eventually started drawing my own dolls yah because I didn’t have the privilege to play with dolls I then created that world on paper   

MAK: oh would you say uhm in a way now you are moving into fashion or design would you say the magazines you were looking at the People Magazines you were looking at which has to do with popular culture, popular events that are taking place around celebrities ehh were an add on to this interest that developed later. I mean you had an interest in Barbie dolls and Barbie dolls I think they are additions if I can remember the additions comes with styles of dress. So would you say these in the end were a composite or a composition of things that added on to your interest in creativity? What would you say ehh

BKhz: uhm

MAK:  to this observation

BKhz: to this observation. I think it is precise but I think my initial play with dolls it wasn’t about creative aspect. It was more like struggling with gender I think yah and… I mean my close cousin she’s the one who gave me attention, my female cousin,

MAK:  mhum

BKhz: and she used to do that, like play with dolls and I liked that and it was a way for us to bond. But then I think also that like magazines and just the whole popular aspect I think that triggered into my head that this, ‘you could do this as well and  you can escape, I think and I mean I am from a very… its like a poor background, where we stay

MAK:  you mean Hlathikhulu

BKhz: yah its like the size of a coin. I think it’s about a thousand people. So I think…

MAK:  so it’s a rural, it’s a rural  background

BKhz: it’s a very rural background yah so I think with that its almost like there is opulent living outside  and …yah… that’s… I don’t know if it’s really aspiring towards that living but its just the idea of more, there is actually… you can actually create outside of your self more if maybe you work harder. You could actually gain that instead yah that’s it… I don’t know if I am answering you

 

00:10:19

 

_MG_1618bw
The Artist, Banele Khoza in his studio

 

Well you are, you’re talking about how popular culture and popular media exposed you to the world outside of the small ehh area that you lived in, you know, you saw that there was a bigger world out there. Uhm you have addressed the question you know we can move on a little bit, cause now having grown up in a very,… we can say in an isolated area with a small population and at a later stage you migrate to South Africa uhm I want you to talk a little bit about your experience especially starting off with when you arrived in South Africa and your experience of our country when you initially arrived and you know uhm the different experiences that you saw when you looked at your own home Hlathikhulu in Swaziland and you looked at South Africa. Can you please talk a little bit about that?

I think migration is actually my mother’s way of raising us uhm in terms of… I think she is also the one who has this idea of wanting to see her children be more than what… yah I think she sees, I don’t know if it is necessarily potential? She wants us to be more than what she can provide. So uhm taking us this side, from Swaziland to South Africa it was more giving us a better education than Swaziland can offer and when I came through this side, I mean I was only twelve years old and I literally cried the following morning when they left me at the hostel. But then when I came to South Africa I realised there is more choices. I mean where I come from we don’t even have a KFC. But when  got here I saw that there was KFC, there was a Macdonald. Everything I saw on TV was here and even art materials. That’s when I actually started using fine liners

Mhum

I mean I would walk into, it was Pen and Art, there were now about,… probably hundred different pens and that really… I don’t know whether if I say it blew my mind – whether its appropriate?

Yah

But I think that was really interesting to see

Its like you were in a candy store

Candy store yah

{laughs}

And you did not know which candy to choose

{laughs}

Yes, its like even with eating I ended up eating Macdonald I think every weekend, cause it was something new and exciting that ‘I use to see this on TV and now I can actually treat my self’ I think with South Africa, as much as I don’t realize it now, I do see it when I go home, …actually it is a pretty luxurious place to be at yah and to have options, to know you can explore other things that you can’t necessarily explore back home

Mhum

Its exciting

And with this experience now of looking at Swaziland and now you look at South Africa uhm what is it that you think South Africa can learn from Swaziland? and vice a versa you know what Swaziland can learn from South Africa because I think you are in the best position at his point in your life to look at the two countries. You do have dual citizenship I think

Yes

…at this point in time. I mean you spent half of your life here, since you arrived here in your preteens. So what do you think South Africans can learn from Swazilanders

{chuckles}

And what is it that Swazilanders can learn from South Africans

 

00:15:13

 

SAMSUNG CSC
BKhz’s studio

I cant say much about what South Africans can learn from Swaziland, not because I am looking down on Swaziland but because… I was raised, in Swaziland but for me, it is more like a house where I could’ve been anywhere in the world cause when I am at home I am literally in the house,  I don’t even have like …’friends’. I used to have friends but my immediate contact is just family and tv

Mhum

I would say that I am more South African than I would say someone from Swaziland cause I am more exposed to things that happen this side cause I literally have to go out of my own space to actually meet with people but when I am at home it is comfort, literally comfort. Swaziland, what they can learn from South Africa its to actually give people the freedom of choice and… I mean even in terms of the government uhm in the arts like there is literally nothing in the arts or anything about the arts that’s really going on in Swaziland about the arts, there is an activation but its not one where people can actually, like children can learn that there is art.

Mhum

For them they are still focused… because it’s a developing country it’s still about sciences and the idea that sciences and… for them it’s really about sciences, that science will provide money and also agriculture. But when you are there you are actually told that you can be a policeman or a doctor. If you are a doctor you are at the highest level. I mean I look at my class mates who aspire to be doctors because their parents maybe doctors or nurses, the best thing could be a doctor. I think if Swaziland can bring in more career options and actually prepare children from an early age that there is actually alternatives like the social psychology than just being a doctor…

They should just widen the horizon of the people in Swaziland so that they can have more options. Well I am glad you’re talking about the broadening of horizons because earlier on just now you spoke about how when you were left in South Africa, you had dried your eyes, obviously you were now becoming comfortable uhm you were in Silverton, was it Silverton primary or Silverton…?

It was high school…

It was a high school; what’s the name of this high school?

Cornerstone College

Cornerstone College. So when you were at Cornerstone College, tell me – was there art there, tell me, was art education provided at Cornerstone College?

No, uhm Cornerstone has been like highly academic, like its more recognised for its academic excellence meaning it is more about the science

Mhum

…yah like accounting and all that. But I think at the end of grade ten I asked if we could have art as well as an extra activity because sports and.. after school everybody had to do something, you were compelled to do something so like an extra activity. So because I did not like sport        

Yes

I tried tennis and I was told I could not play with my left hand. so I had to find an alternative

{Laughs}

extra mural activity

{laughs}

so you led the change towards having art as an activity at Cornerstone College

Yes

And did it happen, was it successful?

Surprisingly they actually listened and we had …I think after pleading for a month we had someone who was taking that class.

That’s very interesting;

Yah

that’s very interesting so have you went back over the years since you left… you left high school when by the way? In what year did you leave high school?

 

00:20:06

      

BKhz: I left Cornerstone in twenty eleven

MAK: and you were there from twenty… from when?

BKhz: Two Thousand and Eight till… cause I did my grade ten and eleven there and then I went to another school. So I tried to go back but then …I never left in good conditions

MAK: Oh, Ok

BKhz:{laughs}

MAK:{laughs}

well perhaps in the future we can talk about the riot if there was a riot that you started there and you were expelled!

BKhz:{continues to laugh}

I wasn’t expelled luckily yah

MAK: yah? but after Cornerstone College where did you go after that?

BKhz: I went to Abbotts College

MAK: Abbots?

BKhz: Abbotts yes, luckily there, there was actually Design. I think that was actually what intrigued me about Abbotts College because my friend went for an interview and she mentioned that she had the choice to do design or art and that for me was like ‘oh, I need to do that, I really need to do that’

MAK: So you spoke to your parents about moving

BKhz: yah moving. Luckily my mom was like… she is always pro everything I have to ask for, so she actually said yes. I mean it’s a very expensive school… I think I was much happier there uhm and I asked to do art, I always wanted to do art but then when my teacher looked at my portfolio – I think I had a lot of dresses inside

MAK: yes of course

BKhz: yes

MAK: the designs

BKhz: the designs

{chuckles}

So she’s like I should do design. What’s surprising is that, once I started with design, I was more intrigued by the other class that did art cause they were working on large scale stuff. I think they were one and half meters by maybe two meters canvases when they were doing projects and that for me was something I wanted to do and…but then because she was so, my teacher, she saw the great potential  in my dresses and all that

MAK: your design teacher?

BKhz: my design teacher, so she thought,…she insisted that I should do fashion design immediately after. But I think I always knew I wanted to be in the arts cause of what I have seen in 2008, I think it was a newspaper – because my parents buy newspapers – South African newspapers

MAK: this is for, you were visiting home?

BKhz: yes I was at home at that time

MAK: this was, was it during the holidays? Because remember you arrived at Cornerstone College in Two thousand and Eight and you would leave at a later stage 

BKhz: yes at a later stage, yes

MAK: to Abbotts College. So if you say Two Thousand and Eight you are talking about some time when you were at home for the holidays

BKhz: yes I think then I was already interested I browsing newspapers and magazines cause I think I had a brief understanding of the world now and I was looking through, I think it was probably the Sunday Times, and it had a picture of Moshekwa by Marlene Dumas and I think that then I knew this is what I wanted to do  

MAK: Moshekwa Langa

BKhz: Langa yah. seeing that painting was like ‘this is what I want to produce

MAK: So this is an artwork that sparked

BKhz: sparked yah

MAK: …your interest in the fine art but because now it is Two Thousand and Eight and you are at Cornerstone College uhm there is no art there, it means the only time you are able to see ehh that it is possible it’s when you are doing design at Abbotts College and then you are looking across the fence at the greener side of the lawn that side and then you realize you don’t want to do design anymore you want to cross over

BKhz: Crossover yah

MAK: were you successful in crossing over to join the fine art group?

BKhz: {chuckles}

no

MAK: is it because your teacher did not want you to go or you decided to hang on

BKhz: I think the first thing it was seeing the art package there; that it was quite expensive. I did not want my parents to actually spent more than they could

MAK: yes

BKhz: So I think that was the first thing that made me consider design instead of art as well and I was already a design student. I think I was doing quite well in it, not just quite well, I think I was the top student in design, so I think that kept me there as well. but then I knew very well that I still wanted to do  fine art, yah

 

00:25:07

 

MAK: you know I am glad that you were able to do design uhm and to be able to see ehh that you have an interest in fine art ehh before you could even hit tertiary level, because some people have the opportunity to handle art materials when they get to tertiary level. So this was an opportunity actually

BKhz: actually yah

MAK: mhum and now the picture of you wanting to study art has formed in your mind and your academic training when you leave Abbotts College ehh where did you go when you left Abbotts College. You did Abbotts College up to matric

BKhz: yes up to matric

MAK: and then you graduated. Where did you go after Abbotts

BKhz: I think because I also had a dream of becoming a fashion designer

MAK: mhum

BKhz: I went to the best school in fashion in South Africa and when I got there the reality was that you don’t draw as much as you think you would draw

MAK: what’s the name of this…

BKhz: ehh it’s London International School of Fashion yah, so

{chuckles}

That took me by surprise. I thought designers drew everyday their ideas and that’s what you do every day. but no you actually have pattern making, you’ve got garment construction, you’ve got uhm also technical design or technical drawing for your sketch. So your sketch basically counts ten percent for the whole process of making a dress. So because this was not what I wanted to do immediately I think the first three months 

MAK: this is in Two Thousand and?

BKhz: Ten

MAK:  No-no

BKhz: Twenty Eleven

MAK: This is in Twenty Eleven. So you finished your schooling at Abbotts College in Twenty Ten and you go to,… you say it’s London International School of Fashion

BKhz: Yah

MAK: so you are there in twenty eleven?

BKhz: yah and then yah the realization, because we also had… initially I did not start off with visual studies in fashion because, also their package like the school fee package was really high. So if I wanted to do that it would’ve meant I was adding more to my parents yah. So…

MAK: so you went to the lowest package?

BKhz:{laughs}

I always confirmed things with them first. I thinks just looking at what they were doing, I had to ask my parents ‘may I please just join this subject?’ and they were ok with it. So I did that, so those three hours in that class were the best times in that school yah 

MAK: let’s wait a little bit, you spoke something about your garment construction, technical drawing ehh this other class that you enjoyed more than the others, what was the name of this class?

BKhz: it was visual studies

MAK: Visual studies,

BKhz: yah

MAK: so this is the class that you enjoyed more than anything while you were at the London International School of Fashion

BKhz: of Fashion yah. Cause it was actually almost like a fine art class, cause it was taken actually by a lecturer who comes from a fine art background yah, so it was basically teaching us illustration, fashion illustration and I think that’s when I realized that actually this is the career that I will actually go for,

MAK: mhum

BKhz: cause it’s basically drawing everyday

MAK: Yes

BKhz: yah

MAK: So you enjoyed practical ehh more than the theoretical part and tell me about this course because now if it’s drawing all the time, did it give you the opportunity to explore your own interest in terms of visual art?

BKhz: …visual art…

MAK: was it loose in terms of the projects that you had to come up with or were they tailor made?

BKhz: I think in terms of expression ‘cause all illustrators have got their own styles 

MAK: mhum

BKhz: so what you are expose to is actually styles of drawing, I mean I think another thing that helped me or what made me enjoy it – she actually brought in Marlene Dumas as one of, like, the people you could have the style for cause she does water colours like  

MAK: washes

BKhz: washes and those washes are very prominent in the fashion industry cause it’s a quick technique for capturing the essence of a dress or the garment. So for me I was more drawn to that and I had already had water colours that I’d been trying to use in the previous years and that clicked for me, I was like ‘ok, I want to do it this way because of my interest in Marlene Dumas as well’

 

00:30.34

 

[Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: I remember you saying that the portrait of Marlene Dumas of Moshekwa Langa Sparked…]/[Banele Khoza: yah]/[Mmutle AK: …an interest in the visual art]/[Banele K: Yah and another thing is that actually for illustrators is more about respecting the client cause you are trying to show the garment and you are respecting their work, I think that’s how I feel about illustration that is more about the client]/[MAK: The client tells you about what they are interested in and then you try and capture that.]/[BKhz: Not necessarily what they are interested in cause you’ve already got the product of what you’ve got to illustrate its just that you are showing it at its best but in a more artistic and an appealing way]/[MAK: ok]/[BKhz: yah I think it’s the same with the recent project that I did, is that I felt I had to respect the client instead of my own interest, yah]/[MAK: yes, I think it’s a challenge because now you have to operate outside of your own needs and interest…]

/

[BKhz: interests]

/

[MAK: you don’t have to prove a point that is personal, you have to try and …bring out what the client would like to see]/[BKhz: what the client would like to see yah]/[MAK: thank you Banele, lets move on a little bit uhm now you have the opportunity to experience the visual art a little bit in this additional class that you attended ehh academically speaking, academically speaking in terms of your training as a fine art artist, when did you leave the London International School of Fashion and Design to go and pursue the visual arts academically]

/

[BKhz: academically]

/

[MAK: remember you were there in Two Thousand and Eleven, how much time did you spent there?]/[BKhz: uhm only a year, I could only be there for a year and I actually spoke to my lecturer and she said ‘you’d actually do well in the fine arts’. I think it was also, it’s not that I was uhm …I was actually quite scared of going into the fine arts cause it’s a matter of ‘if you now do something that you’ve really-really wanted to do, like to spent your time drawing everyday and if you don’t do well then its almost like a huge fail’]

/

[MAK: mhum]

/

[BKhz: So I think I did the other thing just to avoid…]

/

[MAK: failure]

/

[BKhz: failure in my self completely, cause the moment you are yourself and you don’t do well, it’s like well it’s like woo, it’s a failure]/[MAK: I am interested to know who was this lecture who in a way contributed to the freedom that you were searching for, what’s her name?]/[BKhz: It’s Caryn]/[MAK: ehh do you remember her surname?]/[BKhz: we’ve always knew her as Caryn, but her surname – I have only seen it online but then it never clicked, cause, it has always been Caryn]/[MAK: It has always been Caryn, oh, alright.  So she said you would do well uhm in a fine art institution,  you know, which institution was your choice when you left the International School of fashion and design ]/[BKhz: I think at first I thought of UP (University of Pretoria)  because of their library, I’d seen their projects. I wasn’t aware of the arts campus before then uhm I had gone through their library they have a huge collection of fine arts books and even when you go into their library you see like huge paintings and even their halls they are all like uhm dressed in paintings and, so I wanted to be in that environment. I thought that was the environment. But then my decision to leave fashion was quite late, I think it was September; I only… yah September that’s when I started trying to apply and they told me ‘Now there is no space’ and they are not even taking applications at this point and then I tried for TUT (Tshwane University of Technology) and when I went to TUT it was also quite late and they told me that I’d be in their waiting list and I think after they saw my portfolio I climbed to be one of the first people to be considered if there was anyone who wouldn’t continue with the course, yah]

 

00:35:36

SAMSUNG CSC
Work in progress at BKhz studio

 

[MAK: So you started all over again from first year?]/[BKhz: Yes]/[MAK: and then you worked your way]/[BKhz: worked my way yesyah]/[MAK: and, and how did you feel like when you got the notice that they, you’ve been accepted at TUT?]/[BKhz: It was really exciting, I think I already knew that I would get in cause of how positive the HOD (Head of Department) was, because she was quite keen to have me on the program, so I think I already had the excitement of actually that I might be inside and make it]/[MAK: mhum, yes]/[BKhz: yes]/[MAK: and then you ended up studying there, when you compare yor experience at TUT, with the lecturers, with the practicals ehh-ehh subjects. When you compare that to the London International School for Fashion Design uhm – you know, what can you say about that?]/[BKhz about that. Yah I think with; I’d say with LISOF is the acronym of International School of fashion. With LISOF it’s very academic and its people who are really invested in you learning the stuff that’s prescribed for the students, so it’s really, almost like boxed down to… You really need to know this and there was no really freedom, I think uhm it was Fashion Theory and Trend Forecasting that actually put your mind out there cause you are now really exposed to fashion and trends and we also had this website uhm I can’t really recall it right now but it’s also… its an internationally based website that you have to pay really high amount for its subscription, that was also something exciting to see. But then when I came to TUT for me it felt like a self discovery journey, all you had to do is to be yourself and just find your way around. They were just guides for you, so it was not necessary telling you ‘do this, do this’, I think if they see you’ve got your own voice they try not to box you down into what they want you to do. So I think that was really exciting and …yah… I really enjoyed my years, like the my three years – the diploma yah cause it was really just self discovery]/[MAK: Yes, so it was a self discovery journey uhm when you finally had the opportunity to study Fine Art at TUT and I can sense that suddenly you were free to pursue your interests. Let’s talk a little bit now about your career. I take it that now being a driven person as you are during your, perhaps even your second year while you were at TUT you began to make, perhaps even inroads into exhibition opportunities and so on. What was the first exhibition that you were exposed to in terms of going there as a visitor to see an exhibitions, you know, I mean all along you were boxed as far as fashion studies are concerned. Now you get to TUT to explore your own interests as far as TUT is concerned they do take students on excursions you know. Do you have any memory that comes to mind when you think of the first formal exhibition that you were exposed to?]

 

00:40:05

 

Banele Khoza: Uhm yes I remember it very well cause that exhibition was two weeks before my one. So because I was already aware of Diane Victor, how big she is in South Africa and her role as well in South African Art. To know as well that she was in that gallery, I think that really shook me and… so it was a group exhibition of, I think it was winners of certain competition

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: and Diane Victor was one of these artists?

Banele K: Yah

Mmutle AK: was it in Pretoria?

BKhz: Yes it is, it was in Pretoria here in Waterkloof 

MAK: mhum

So knowing, I think, she was going to be passing by at that time, to just know that her work was in that area and the next week my first show will be there as well

In the same gallery?  

In the same gallery yah. That for me was huge, I think. And it scared me, it really scared me and actually my lecturer, Mia, she was also in that exhibition as well, so I had a certain respect for her as well to say ‘wow, I am a second year student and I am showing in the same places they are’ I was pretty grateful for that opportunity.

I think it was a great opportunity for you to show your work when you were doing your second year and, what was the reception when you finally had the exhibition? What was the name of the this space or gallery?

It is Trent Gallery

Oh, Trent Gallery

I think the reception, cause they first started off in terms of like a trial thing. They said I should just bring what I had before the exhibition. I had small drawings that I tried to imitate Andy Warhol. So they almost look like silk screen prints but they are actually drawings with gouache, same effects – they actually sold the same day and I think that was,’…ok I can actually do this‘.

Mhum

So that was a boost

It boosted your morale and

Confidence in myself

Your confidence in yourself as being an artist and the exhibition that you participated in, who were your contemporaries? Who were the guys exhibiting alongside you? I mean you were doing second year and you are having an exhibition at a space where professional artists have just had a huge exhibition as you say. Who were your contemporaries who might still be practicing today who you showed with that year? What year was it?

Ehh I think it was Twenty Twelve and I have been in the industry for a while. It was actually the curator who is Hardus Koekemoer and it was also Eric Duplan, Eric Duplan has been active for a while, and Daniel Nel – he is a sculptor; so also that to be placed amongst people who have been practicing for so long

mhum

that was also quite scary and also a boost in confidence that I can actually show amongst

the best

not just students but people who are really doing well in the industry yah

So this sort of in a way added currency to your own uhm career as an artist to show alongside these guys

mhum

And what about the perceptions of your classmates back in TUT following this exhibition you know ehh did you make new friends because of this exhibition or

{chuckles}

I think I actually grew distant from my classmates. I think I they have always been aware that I am always working like since first year I was working not necessarily into visual arts base. I’ve always had a client base going and I think by the end of first year I was already doing wedding invitations. So now being exposed to the art world and exhibitions I started working some more so it was always like now I am in class and then I am gone, I am at home trying to create new pieces.

 

00:45:10

 

social envy.jpg
KHOZA, Banele. Social Envy, 2016. Mixed Media. Dimensions unavailable

 

And on the other hand you were trying to create wedding invitations and the are other people interested in commissioning work from you.

yah

so you built your client base from first year?

From first year yes. I think even grade twelve I was already illustrating dresses for people. So yah

{chuckles}

I have always tried to…so yah

So you actually started making a living before

{laughs}

I wouldn’t say a living but a way to live

{chuckles}

Yah that’s what I was doing

Yes, yes. Well I think uhm it is quite a milestone you know, already in grade twelve you know art can serve as a commodity as much as it is a creative expression. So it means your commodification of your own art production and your training, you know, they developed parallel to each other

Parallel to each other yah

uhm let’s talk about important exhibitions that you have had because now we are getting closer to the end of our interview we will just look at two questions and then we round off ehh important exhibitions that stands off or that stand up in terms of your career at this point in time before you have your solo exhibition. Can you think of any, you probably had lots of exhibitions at this point, I mean you have been active since grade twelve so you have had an illustrious career!

Yah

Mhum

Ehh I think the very first one would be the SASOL New Signatures

Mhum

cause knowing that they take about two hundred eighty entries

yes

or necessarily, two hundred eighty works and for them to just cut it down to twenty artworks and for you to be amongst that twenty in Pretoria I think for me and not just for the competition but in Pretoria alone   

yes

I think for me that was, quite encouraging

And Pretoria as the main exhibition space. We’re talking about Twenty Fourteen or

I think it might have been Twenty Thirteen yah it might have been Twenty Thirteen

When you made the cut

Yah and shortly after as well it was Barclays…yah I think

Barclays as in ABSA L’Atelier?

Yah cause there as well they really cut down a lot of entries

mhum

I think those have been the hugest exhibitions I have done. I think another one was the print, my first print show Tim Folds, cause on that show he had uhm…basically I can’t say …I don’t know if I should say but he had, …I mean Norman Catherine, he had Diane Victor again,

mhum

there was also Jan van Der Merwe so to just show amongst people you have always looked up to…and there I was the only student in that show so yah it was basically ‘the contemporary artists’ than me and we also had Angus Tailor opening

the show

the show yah I think there it really showed probably my status uhm I can’t say maybe in the art just to say maybe

that you are visible

yah

and this is when, this Tim Folds exhibition?

Two Thousand and Fourteen   

Was this a print based exhibition?

Yes it was a print based exhibition

And your ABSA L’Atelier you were there also in Twenty Fourteen

Yes

So we are talking about Twenty Fourteen for both of them neh?

I think ABSA was actually Twenty Fifteen, the selection was in Twenty Fourteen

But the Tim Folds was in Twenty Fourteen

Yes, yah

Alright

I think that also brought also a huge recognition to be shown amongst them.

 

00:50:10

 

And you know when you reflect personally about these achievements, starting in Twenty Twelve up to Twenty Fourteen and then going into Twenty Fifteen with ABSA, you know, L’Atelier uhm how do you feel personally as an artist? Do you feel that you have arrived or

I don’t think I have arrived

{chuckles}

I think having done all that it gives me confidence that whatever I do would be recognized but I don’t think I have really arrived I am still like a baby in the industry but then it gives me confidence that I don’t have to look into the visual arts to emulate what they do, but that I can actually have my story. It basically tells me that my story is valid so I can actually live my life and from that I come across; I can create that or put it in my work and whatever I have there it will actually to be able to make it into the worlds of the galleries. So I think that’s what it has brought into my world. I can be my self in my own space and that’s enough.

Yes, and it means your voice is audible

Audible, yah

Because now you get invited to participate in important exhibitions. Uhm, let’s look at the last part of this interview which is your upcoming exhibition without giving ehh a spoiler. Uhm what does this exhibition mean to you because now it is happening at the Pretoria Art Museum in Twenty Sixteen and you are hardly ten years into your career you know I mean this is half of a decade I mean if you count from Twenty Eleven when you were making illustrations up to now. This is like half a decade, you know, into your career if we are honest and if we count from when you were doing invitations and illustrations what does this exhibition mean to you as an artist?

Uhm, I think a lot of people would say it is luck but then the definition of luck according to Opra is opportunity meeting preparation. I think it is not necessarily half a decade, it is half a decade into the professional space but its been preparation from when I was four years old when I was still trying to draw people from

magazines?

Magazines and also from drawing books, I have approached people and they were like ‘what are you doing?’ And I think it is that and coming now into Twenty Sixteen into the Pretoria Art Museum, so I am really grateful for this opportunity. I mean I know the people that I look up to have probably had had a show or two shows at the Pretoria Art Museum and for me to do it so young and so early in my career I think that’s, …its everything. I mean I am going through panic at this point about what would be at this space and because I work instinctively as a response to what I would be going through in the next months

Mhum

I also have no idea of what I would be going through so that’s quite scary but I have actually realized that its about being in the studio and creating and that’s how I will have a body of work and not to over think it as well I should just continue as well as before. I think I will be ok

Yes and, you know, the title of the exhibition as well. What will be the title of this exhibition?

Its ‘Temporary Feelings’   

Yes, ‘Temporary Feelings’, I could only remember the word ‘feeling’

Yah

And could you be a little bit ehh philosophical and tell us what do you mean when you say ‘Temporary Feelings’.

Temporary Feelings, yah

Why did you choose that title, your first solo exhibition in an international platform?

I think everything that we go through or anything we feel. I mean yesterday I was feeling heart broken because of something that’s going on but I woke up today and I am happy. I feel everything we go through its temporary, even love, love fades for people and it’s actually the commitment in their bond that make them stay together so just like any other feeling. The strongest love it’s all temporary so I wanted to capture that, that I could be feeling this today but tomorrow it’s something else. So I just wanted to capture those specific days, those feelings. It could be anger; it could be anything that’s… yah.

So its means we could be looking forward to a poetic exhibition in terms of the pieces that you are going to produce for the exhibition because you’ve just said that you just work spontaneously, nothing is prepared  except your training which has been a preparation throughout your life; so we can expect to see poetic responses

I hope so

Well we look forward to your exhibition Banele, uhmI, I am also humbled to have had the opportunity to interview you because it is always interesting to hear the lives of the artists you know where they have been, uhm, the challenges that they have encountered; it makes you appreciate their artistic production a little bit more and I would like to thank you for taking the time to come and see me and for us to have this interview. Hopefully people will take from this interview what I have also been able to take away – that it takes years to prepare. Thanks a lot for coming to see me Banele.

Thank you Mmutle I really appreciate that,  mean always when I sit opposite you for me it’s a great honor, yah

Thank you

Its really something special for me

thank you Banele

Thank you Mmutle

 

00:57:28

 

END OF THE INTERVIEW


N.B. We are very thankful to the artist for providing the images appearing in this interview.



Winter

10 June

© mmutle arthur kgokong 2016

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2 thoughts on “Intraparadox: an interview with Banele Khoza”

  1. Great interview, such an inspiring and very gifted artist. His story hopefully will be an inspiration to other artists and aspiring artists, that hard work and focus are the keys. Looking forward to his exhibition.

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