Fumani Khumalo, is a Pretoria-born, Joburg-based artist. He predominately make use of charcoal and pastels as a medium to draw portraits of subjects and their daily conversations. We had the opportunity to get more insight into his work and creative journey.
How do you define yourself as a visual artist and what inspired you to become one?
I’m a visual artist that seeks to represent different people that I encounter in my frequent travels. I seek to tell their stories and experiences in a way most people wouldn’t see. A way that they themselves might not also see.
From an early age I’ve always been intrigued by politics and social issues. I would often read books, watch documentaries and news as medium of information. It only made sense for me to use my talent to express and contribute my view about these relevant social issues.
What makes your art unique?
My art is informed by language. Which is interesting because I take a verbal dialogue and interpret it into a static visual format. It is said to acquire or know a second language is to have a second soul. It is actually quite interesting how language shapes our perception and experiences of the world. When we speak our vocal cords create vibrations which we send flying through the air as pressure waves. Over time we learned to use these vibrations to express and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas with others. In my art, I unravel the language and dialogue that people use as a means of communication and how that language creates an individual’s experience of the world that they live in. We invent our worlds using language and our exposure to language; whether limited or expanded, helps shape our perception and experience of the world.
My portraits are informed by the everyday interactions, travels and languages between ordinary subjects encountered in my frequent travels. Their eyes are often scratched out to show how their interpretation and experience of the world is not through what we see but our own understanding and knowledge of the world formed through our daily dialogues.
What creative projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a new body of work titled Our Culture is Contagious. This body illustrates relatable instances where you find language and dialogue in creation. I want to show how ones perception of the world can be easily spread and influenced by the space they occupy, the people they occupy it with and the conversations shared that shape this perception.
What do you feel the next step should be for the contemporary art industry in South Africa?
The next step for the contemporary art industry I feel should be to open the art industry to those who are represented in the art itself. For a long time, art has been a medium that has been closed off from the public, the people represented in the art are not the same people viewing the art.
What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them?
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