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Gaschette talks to artist Fumani Khumalo

Fumani grew up in a township north of Pretoria, Soshanguva, and since a young age, he has been exploring art in different forms from graffiti to illustration. In films and photography so much of the actors/models emotions are transcendent from their eyes to ours yet Fumani creates an abundance of emotion without revealing the indelible connection eyes make. One might wonder how is this all possible? His work is bright with bold backgrounds akin to vintage African walls. Each piece bursts with colour, a jovial atmosphere juxtaposed with scratchings on the paintings, naturally soliciting an underlying frustration amongst the iridescence palette. He is of the opinion that creativity has a bigger purpose other than the obvious aesthetically pleasing aspect, it has the power to change the world in one way or another.

Where does your style stem from?

My style is born from a mix of different art forms that I had been exploring growing up. It’s a mixture of illustrations, graffiti, and fine art. I believe that I have included the bit that I’ve grasped from all those disciplines in my style of work

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

My inspiration comes from my everyday movements, dialogues, and languages between ordinary subjects encountered in my frequent travels between township areas.

If you are of the opinion that art can bring about change, do you believe artists are more pro-active about this idea more today than ever before?

Never has been an artist been as important as it is today. With so much social and political unrest in the world there is a lot of material for artists to work from depending on what they gravitate towards. Artists are more focused on matters that are personal to them rather than just broad social issues.

Has there been a highlight from the lockdown that has been positive in some regards?

The best thing about lockdown is that it is creatives to actually be creative. We are forced to explore new mediums and find different ways to present our work to people. We are becoming less reliant on systems and structures that were once placed by the markets/industries because they are also uncertain at this time. Instead, your career is in your own hands and you have to figure out how best you can present yourself and how you will use your creative thinking to break through the clutter of everyone else’s talents.

The scratching of the eyes is very unique, can you tell us a little more why you do this?

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 subject’s 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.

Do you have future plans?

What’s next for me is firstly exploring different mediums of my work, I would like to get into a bit more sculpting and also get back into making murals. Taking dialogues of everyday people and giving them a platform to voice their worthy and once marginalized narratives.

What would you love for South Africa

People are generally unaware of their cultural conditioning and do not realize that the way they recognize the world is not necessarily the same as the way other groups do. Our brain has fixed our lenses only to pick up the familiar and the comfortable. Moving outside of our comfort zone takes a great deal of work and determination. As a country rather than just canceling everyone that does not match our view, we need to understand that some people aren’t as “woke” as we are and getting them to change their perspective on something will take a great deal of unlearning and teaching from each and every one of us.



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