ANA Spotlight

ANA Talks with South African Artist, Reggie Khumalo

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Reggie Khulamo is a self taught artist, humanitarian and motobikerist. He uses his art to inspire soical change. His work is heavily inspired by the cultures he has immersed himself in from all over Africa and we can see that in his bold paintings of bright colours and various patterns.

A.S: As you reflect on 1-54 Marrakech, what did you want the audience to take away from viewing your work? 

R.K: First, what is the work about? You know the work is really about Eden and our natural state of being. In terms of who we are, who we are as human beings before being Africans, before anything, human beings. I’ve always questioned myself, is this what it is, this humanity? Is this really us? In the words of Mandela, “ We’re not born hating”. If we’re not born hating, then what is our natural state? how would we be if we’re in Eden and if we recognize that we are in Eden, not that we were?

If we recognize that right now, at this time we are in heaven, what does that do to how we behave from here? My work really in the last couple of years has been talking about the return to the natural state of who we are and not to the kind of lives we have found ourselves in. I demonstrate this with apples, these three states of humanity or even the time of humanity, these eras of humanity. For instance, you’ve got the red apple, the fall of men, then I’ve got the golden apple. The golden apple stands for the times we are in now, mostly representing capitalism, greed, and so on. Lastly, I got the black apple. The black apple is the true essence of who we are. In that light, my new show is called The New Temptation.

I’m tempted to take a bite of this new black apple. It’s not a new thing, but it’s new in the times we are in now that to be kind is unique. To love is unique. It makes the times that we are in now, make kindness stand out. It makes it feel like it’s something unnatural for you to share, to care, to love. You’re going against certain things, principles. They’re going against, The times you are in, in the golden time in the Golden Apple era of saying “me, me, me”. The black apple offers you to you. You know the temptation is you.

I want people to take away, that there is a part of you that is laid dormant and that is the most beautiful part of who you are. That is the pure side of you that is you can love and you can care and not be afraid to do that and that you can. That it won’t in a time like this, this is what we need, all of us. This is the hope for humanity to return to self.

Image courtesy of Reggie Khumalo

A.S: I like that. About lying dormant. That’s true.

R.K: We’re all afraid to be kind. We’re all afraid to be taken for a ride and then kindness shouldn’t care. Love shouldn’t care. like you like. Let’s say, for instance, you get into a relationship. Some of us, currently, now get into a relationship with a quarter of our hearts because we are thinking, “I don’t want to be hurt”. That’s the truth, but you will never experience love. You never experience pure love if you are a quarterly in. The whole idea of love is that you need to lose, you need to sacrifice something, and that sacrifice is you giving up the idea that you want to be safe. You’ve got to lose yourself completely to it.

A.S: How do you want the world to see Africa through your work?

R.K: it’s not even the world to see Africa. It’s for Africa to see itself. Then the world will see Africa from there. If you don’t see yourself, no one can see you. If you don’t feel you, no one can feel you. First, we need to come to the realization of our true selves. We are Kings and Queens, and we have been the center of the world for many, many, many millennia. Before Europe, before all of this. We have gone and colonized the world. 

Not in the sense of the new colonization we’re about, the subjugation of people to slavery and so on. We have gone to other worlds and shared our part of ourselves and then still let it be and then come back home. Do you know how intelligent you’ve got to be, how much wisdom you’ve got to be not to want to own something. But to say, you know, I want to feel it, but I’m going to let it go. Do you know how that kind of, that kind of intelligence, that kind of purity is with Africans?

Africans are quite pure people. In the sense that now, we still share with the very people that hurt us. We’re almost very quite naive and that’s the kind of love that is needed, that kind of naivety. I’m saying it’s nothing wrong with us, it’s everything wrong with the world. I think I don’t want the world to see us. I want Africa to see us and then, from there, to see itself. from there, the world will see us.

Image courtesy of Reggie Khumalo

A.S: How does inspiration strike from different cultures and perspectives and fly into a body of work?

R.K:  That’s a big influence because I’ve been to Cairo on a motorbike from SA. I did it for about 4 years. For four years I was on bike camping and sleeping in villages I’ve met people in. I’ve been a nomad for most of my life. I’ve lived across a lot of countries. One cultural thing that I’ve learned is that people want to be good. They are good, and they want to experience good and they want to give good. It’s just that the world has hurt people so much. The influence has been so great to see the hope. That’s where I got to understand that Ubuntu is good.

There’s this philosophy of Ubuntu. I am because we are and you are because I am. So the idea that we’re all a village, we’re all one people, and what affects me must affect you and should affect you. What affects you should affect me as far as you are, wherever you are. I must always think of another person and that’s the one philosophy that I’ve picked up. Especially traveling across Africa, that all countries share this one philosophy in Africa. I’ve found Ubuntu. I’ve found Ubuntu through my travels.

A.S: What can we look forward to seeing from you this year?

R.K: This year, I’ve got this “new temptation” tour that is going to take shape across about five countries. It’s going to start in Morocco. It’s one big show that I’m going to be producing every three months to make it up. 

For instance, it’s the “new temptation” that’s the whole body of temptation, that’s the whole body of work that I’m working on throughout the whole year. with this new temptation, I would be going to different locations to showcase the body of work. It’s I’m going to have one in Switzerland, the UK, in London, and I’m going to have another show in Miami at the end of the year in the US, and I’m hoping to add 1 show within the continent.

Additionally I will be opening a Artist residency space in Zanzibar, Tanzania titled Ubuntu Village later this year. I’m really looking forward to that and opening it to artists to come and create.

Ubuntu Village
Image courtesy of Reggie Khumalo

A.S: That sounds amazing.

R.K: To touch almost all continents as much as possible at least I’ve got about 5 shows that are planned for the year. Morocco, Switzerland, London, Miami and Berlin. Possibly South Africa too.

Image courtesy of Reggie Khumalo

A.S: We look forward to this showcase.

R.K: Possibly even Ghana, or else, maybe go back to Lagos again.

A.S: We will be happy to have you. Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone trying to get this on their feet in the arts industry, specifically the African arts ecosystem?

R.K: I think it’s just to be pure and true, don’t follow the trend. I would like to believe that I’m not really in the mainstream as much as gained some little bit of awareness across the world. It’s because the work itself speaks for me. I’ve not gone to the leaking galleries. I’ve not gone begging for attention.

I’ve just done my work, and I’ve just listened to my heart, and some have said, “Your work might be the price might be too high” or whatever and I’d say is what it is and you know, and then some galleries will have issues with you for so not signing up with them because you to want to be independent for a little bit while and then they would start you know talking badly about you. It’s just that what is pure and true will always find daylight.

A.S: Yes, it will always find its audience.

R.K: It always finds its audience, the encouragement is don’t be discouraged by the art world, The art world is fake, you know. Just do pure art. Do art that is from your spirit and listen to what your spirit is talking about, what you would, what is here, to feel and want to share with the world. Then just go with that and anything else will follow through. Money will follow through money. All that will come together, you know.

Azeeza: Thank you so much. This has been great.

For more updates from Reggie follow him on Instagram @reggiethenomad.


Azeeza Sanni is the General Manager of Art Network Africa. She is a graduate of Middlesex University of Mauritius & Monash South Africa. You can reach her with information/requests on

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