Reggie Khumalo fights xenophobia, injustices through art Reggie Khumalo

Renowned South African fine artist, motorbike adventurer and philanthropist Reggie Khumalo is launching his first solo exhibition at the prestigious HourGlass Gallery in Lagos Nigeria from 13 to 20 April.

In his latest body of work titled “Mental Revolution”, Khumalo calls on all Africans to be liberated from a painful past to usher in an Africa that radiates positivity and abundance.

“Mental revolution is an awakening to the time when Africans were proud of who they were and the awakening of the potential of a different future,” explains Khumalo.

“It’s a mental revolution … it’s not physical. We’re not fighting anyone with guns or anything like that, it’s a mental change. The inspiration behind the exhibition is simple, it is wanting to see African people believing in themselves again and saying this is who we are, this is what Africa is … we’re proudly African.”

His artwork is centred around the idea of social change, sharing stories from his travels and his passion for humanitarian work.

“I’ve had shows in Ethiopia and Egypt, but this will be my first show in West Africa,” he said. “I think it’s important that we criss-cross the continent as Africans in order to share our cultures, and different points of view and to learn from one another. To capture a time in history.

“Travelling is the most important thing to do as an artist. We can fight things like xenophobia through art when we share other people’s stories, where they are coming from and why they are going through the things they are going through.

The Alexandra born artist firmly believes in working on the continent in order to foster the spirit of Ubuntu.

“My art inspires my travel and with I generate some sort of income and I use that income somehow to make a change wherever I can make a change,” he said.

“And that is to inspire others to say where you are, what you’re doing is good enough to make a change. The change starts with us, after all, I am because you are.”

The figures in his paintings, mostly portraits, are interpretations of the faces he encounters along the way, often wearing local garb.

“We know people by how they dress so when you look at the images you know that this is where I’ve been,” he said. “The clothing tells a story. I do use the materials from some of the places that I’ve visited and I capture that in my work.”

After the show in Nigeria, Khumalo has exhibitions scheduled at the Frieze Art Fair in London, Munich, Germany, and New York where he is set to spend a year in residency at the Bishop Gallery.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my story, my journey, and also talking about Ubuntu across the world,” he said. “I’m a proud Ubuntu-ist, if you like, to say we can build a better world with each person playing their part.

“In the next two months I‘m going on a trip across five African countries on a motorbike to raise money for the UN’s Food Programme. I’m going on site visits of their projects and coming up with a body of work and then I’ll donate back to those projects.

“I’m excited to get back on the road and do what I do best to be wild, free and painting and sharing the spirit of Ubuntu to say ‘your brothers across the continent care about you’. We are in this together as Africans.” —

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