Banele Khoza was born in Hlatikulu, Swaziland. In 2008 he moved to South Africa for school, then he enrolled at the London International School of Fashion for a year, studying Fashion Design in 2011. Khoza returned to South Africa to study a National Diploma in Fine Art (2014) at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria, South Africa. He also completed a BTech in Fine Art (2015). Thereafter, Khoza became a lecturer for Drawing and Art Theory at TUT, but is now a full-time artist.
Banele Khoza’s figurative abstraction depicts colourful portraits of the male nude—obscure ghostly figures in a palette of mostly pink and blue. The acrylic pigments are combined and blurred together in fervent brushstrokes that seem to be applied with acute sensitivity, but also a sense of the uninhibited. They bleed and drip into empty spaces, while pencil sketch marks reveal compositional form.
“I appreciate the freedom I get from living in South Africa, tackling gender norms and also the idea of painting. There is a rich culture and appreciation of the Arts in this country and it inspires me further. I would have been in a box if I was based in Swaziland – however living in South Africa has allowed me to create my own identity that knows of no boundaries,” says Khoza.
Romantic and dreamlike, the portraits allude to sensual fantasies underpinned by homoerotic desire mixed with feelings of vulnerability and incompleteness. Khoza’s visual language examines the suppression of complex and diverse expressions of masculinity—an attempt to liberate the emotion between men trying to find love from each other in today’s filtered virtual world.
In September 2017, Khoza won the Gerard Sekoto Award at the ABSA Art Gallery for his series Note Making and along with it a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. “Note Making was a series that was developed in a period of a year and tackled a certain issue that I was struggling with, namely masculinity,” says Khoza.
Select solo exhibitions include Lonely Nights at Lizamore & Associates (Johannesburg: 2017) and Temporary Feelings at the Pretoria Art Museum (Pretoria: 2016). Khoza opened his first solo exhibition called LOVE? at SMITH gallery (Cape Town: 2018), after a hugely successful year that included group shows, three art fairs and a prestigious award.
In 2017, Khoza represented SMITH at the Cape Town Art Fair, the FNB Joburg Art Fair and the AKAA Fair in Paris.