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Banele Khoza: a man to watch

With a recent solo show at Zeitz MOCAA, the 2017 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award under his belt and a fleet of taxis covered in his work (as the result of him winning the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award), Banele Khoza’s work is going places.

     Khoza’s first suite of lithographs published by The Artists’ Press demonstrate his skill and dexterity. Khoza’s ability to embrace the unknown and to immerse himself in the technical possibilities of what lithography has to offer, combined with the skills of Master Printer Mark Attwood, have resulted in prints that reveal the artist’s gifts.
     Khoza worked on stone and grained film, using a combination of pencil, litho crayon and ink and tusche washes. The delicate traces of the dried ink, Khoza’s choice of colours and drawing abilities combine to delight the eye. Khoza has been a keen draftsman since the age of 5, drawing images of the toys that he wanted but could not get from his conservative parents. This sense of longing and vulnerability can be seen in Khoza’s lithographs.

     Obsessively neat and detailed text weaves through some of the prints, but one cannot read all of the words. It is as if the artist entices one into his private world and then stops one from fully accessing it, questioning the viewer’s motives for the intrusion. Khoza’s journals are an integral part of his practice and are reflected in his image making. ‘I have never seen so many sharp pencils’ is some of the text included in one of his lithographs. Khoza’s interest in the private and the public merges with his interest in social media, technology, connection/disconnection, isolation and a longing to be whole and completely present with someone as well as with oneself.
     In the six two-colour prints, faces and bodies are alluded to, the delicacy of the washes contrasting with the boldness of the forms. And just as things seem to be getting really serious the text and titles pull one back with a sense of delight and quirkiness. Dear Olympia (a reclining nude with two cats) and Don’t forget the tomatoes reminding one of everyday routines.
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