Artist Themba Khumalo paints a charcoal portrait of Johannesburg

Themba Khumalo was born and raised in Orange Farm, South of Johannesburg. The mural and fine artist has always had an affinity for art. His creative journey began in childhood. “My love for art started at primary level of schooling when I used to draw my comic heroes. In high school I started to research more about art and art history, focusing on the township. I made the decision that I wanted to do art as a career after my matric year.”
Achieving a bursary to study a course in professional printmaking development at The Artist Proof Studio put his plan into motion. Today he is on a residency at August House in Doornfontein, where he creates emotionally-charged charcoal drawings and paintings. “I live a simple life. I live and breath art. I produce artwork everyday,” he shares. 
Themba explores place and the idea of home through his pieces. “My work looks at landscape. It takes you on a sociopolitical journey of romanticised stories of disposition, time and history through mark-making. I recreate the nuances of a contemporary South Africa that I experience on a daily bases.
“Using black, white and grey I present the longing that comes with the displacement that most city dwellers experience. I present landscapes that lie between the city and home, uninhabited.” The artist has strong feelings about Johannesburg that infuse his depictions of it. “Joburg, for me, is where most people seek home in search for better opportunity, comfort and a better life. Hence it is referred to as the City of Gold.” 

His works are rough, immediate and intuitive. He talks us through his process of painting a picture: “My process requires me to work with my hands, smudging and spreading the charcoal along the paper, adding and subtracting, creating positive and negative spaces. I create depth using an eraser to make various tones from black to white to grey.”
What distinguishes Themba’s work is the moody atmosphere of the imagery, which he describes as being somewhat of a reflection of his own nature. “I’m inspired by events that I witness daily in my environment. It can be something I read in a newspaper or see on TV or social media that affects me. I then portray them in the form of clouds to give a certain mood. I can say that the mood in my drawings is present in my personality. The artworks give you a sense of calmness and quiet and that reflects my personality.”

Themba is working toward exhibiting at the Turbine Art Fair in July. 

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