in Soweto, South Africa in 1987, Johannesburg-based artist Themba Khumalo
refers to land as a subject matter. Through multi-media drawings, Khumalo
depicts land as a witness to dispossession. In his ten-year professional
career, he has participated in over twenty exhibitions, featured in over ten
art fairs, and has had five solo exhibitions nationally and abroad.
current art subject reflects the social, political, and spiritual landscape of
Highly emotive and sensitive
the works of Themba Khumalo confers a need for connection. Using charcoal, coffee,
and paint Khumalo renders bare landscapes and expressive skies.
Khumalo’s renditions of vast
bare landscapes speak to the physical and spiritual essence of land. For some
land is political, some necessary for survival, for some it’s home and some a
source of vegetation and financial freedom.
is a great witness and testament to time, as we all live in it, on it, live off
it, and leave it. The land sees and bears all; it experiences rain, drought,
strife, flood, erosion, fire, illegal occupation, industrialisation, brutality,
protest, dispossession, and still remains to tell the tale.
works often include poles, electricity and power lines and pylons which speak
to the need for connection. Light at times needs connections to get to the
right place, people also sometimes long for connections weather human
interaction, or for economic pursuits or maybe just emotional connections,…interesting
enough; lightning is a product of connection.
order for lightning to happen, negative charges from the clouds (gathered from
water that clouds get from the earth) connect with positive charges on the
earth surface and a bolt of energy hits the land on a specific space, speaking
to the connectedness of everything.
work also references people sitting, meditating, and praying on these vast
pieces of land referring to the human’s need to connect to a higher spiritual
being or entity. Weather we refer to the entity as God, Buddha, Muhammad,
Shiva, The Universe or Amadlozi (ancestors), humans often attempt for a
spiritual connectedness to divinity which at times is done in natural spaces
that the land features a great part in, speaking to land and its role as a
site, a medium, mediator and space of refuge, an abode for faith and healing.