Artist Interview: Fumani Khumalo – Ingrained In Ink, Or The Hue Of History

September 17, 2021

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Fumani Khumalo is part of the TAF Unearthed creative mentorship programme at the Turbine Art Fair 21. The 2021 artists are mentored by Nkhensani Rihlampfu and Thembi Matroshe.


What sort of training have you received and how important do you think it is to seek training (in terms of learning first principles and refining technique)?

In my artistic endeavours, I’ve gone through a lot of self-learning ignited by a passion for drawing. To further forge my skills, I have gone through mentorship from people I admire at a distance and with those who have given up their time to share their knowledge with me. Training, feedback and mentorship are vital for any creative. It’s an essential part of unearthing your voice, refining your talent and honing your approach.


What is your principal medium, and why did you choose it?

My work illustrates a balance between history and contemporary – a granular, life-like use of pastel and cross-hatching ink on stained paper, in reverence of the form of historical drawings. Oral histories are the vessel between the present and the past. My art acts as a tool of cultural preservation, documenting the inventions of our daily dialogue.


Describe the techniques you use most? How complicated are your methods, and why is each step necessary?

I make use of two different techniques in my art. I use cross-hatching, consisting of parallel and intersecting lines to create shading in my figurative drawings. This is then combined with vivid, bright shades of pastel colours. The challenge with cross-hatching is making consistent tiny strokes at close proximity, while still being aware of the larger figurative drawing they culminate into.


What technological tools do you use in your work?

I make use of the Adobe Creative Suite to design any marketing elements, such as a website to host my art, as well as editing videos and designing any branding toolkits that form part of my studio practice.


Who is the single other artist whose style you most admire, and why?

I admire Daniel Arsham’s style the most.  He creates eroded casts of modern everyday artefacts that look like they have been unearthed years into the future. He uses materials such as volcanic ash, crystals, drywall and other materials to reinterpret modern objects into ancient artefacts discovered in the future. I admire how he has succeeded in breathing new life into what had come before, projecting his new vision, erasing all boundaries between past, present and future.


Galleries and other traditional means are only one way of marketing art. What do you believe are the most important other routes, and what is the most important insight you have gained in that area in your career?

I believe that it is important for artists to make use of any relevant marketing tools available to get their work out into the world. Make use of traditional mediums such as social media, websites and posters. But also explore non-traditional approaches such as public murals, or collaboration with other creatives or brands. My aim is to make your work an intrinsic part of popular culture, to go beyond the boundaries of traditional art and become a part of everyday people’s lives.


Why do you create? What are your stated goals in producing art?

I seek to explore perverse ideas and knowledge that still exist today within our everyday languages. The kind of knowledge that is not found in any formal documentation or modern-day books.

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