Highly elaborate and expressive, the works of Buhle Nkalashe are a marvel to look at.
Residing in Kayelitsha and working from the Airport Industrial in Cape Town, South Africa, Buhle Nkalashe is a visual artist who incorporates mixed media like oil and acrylic paint as well as oil pastels in his striking work.
Fascinated by the idea of how patterns and colour can be a symbol of identity, Nkalashe’s art documents how African contemporary culture has evolved over the years and how traditional symbols that speak to heritage are incorporated into everyday contemporary aesthetics.
Being in the industry for more than ten years, Nkalashe has had the pleasure of having his debut solo exhibition at The New African, at Youngblood Africa Gallery (2018) and has also participated in several group exhibitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg at significant galleries and international art fairs such as the Zeitz MOCAA (2020), and Turbine Art Fair (2019).
Nkalashe has further been featured in various Saatchi catalogues and collections and was recently identified as the “Best Young Artists to Collect by Saatchi Art Online. In 2019, Nkalashe collaborated with a menswear clothing brand, Fields Store (Cape Town) as well as published four collection books in 2021.
Nkalashe has also completed the Zanele Muholi residency and has an upcoming group show New Africa at Salon Mondial Freilager-Platz 10, 4142 Münchenstein, Switzerland (2021).
Throughout his life, Nkalashe has been exposed to many cultural events and ceremonies, particularly in his isiXhosa culture. In these gatherings, people perform rituals while asking for blessings.
During the celebrations Nkalashe notes melodies of songs sung that tend to tell stories of young and old.
Interested in the aesthetics of these events such as weddings, funerals, and celebrations, Nkalashe notes the intricate patterning, vivid colour, and elaborate texture gathered from the varied attires worn at the events.
Aiming to identify and celebrate expressive patterns, colour, beadwork, and texture associated with celebrations in his community, Nkalashe regards the aesthetics as strong symbols of the diverse South African ethnicity.
Noticing similarities between Xhosa, Zulu, and Ndebele patterning and colour, Nkalashe felt the need to reimagine these visual aesthetics together in attempts of contributing to contemporary visual and social culture.