Fine Arts and Zimbabwean Dollars

By: Ntombenhle Shezi (NtombenhleShezi)

An interview with fine artist, Bukhosi Mzi Nyathi, who paints using Zimbabwean dollars as a part of his Abuse of Power campaign.

Bukhosi Mzi Nyathi is a fine artist, ceramist, and a poet born and bred in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. After working as a practising emerging artist at the Bulawayo National Art Gallery, he came to South Africa to continue pursuing art professionally. Currently, Bukhosi is working on an ongoing exhibition that explores the abuse of power from multiple spectrums, while holding an artist residency at Funda Centre in Soweto, Johannesburg. The greatest inspirations for his work include nature, love, information, people, as well as socio-political issues and his work speaks volumes about deep issues that affect us all as humans. Bukhosi uses his artwork to express his opinions on abuses of power, religion and even the disposition of Africans.

How would you describe the subjects of your art?

My subjects vary from time to time. It depends on the mood. In 2010 I started looking at the topic Abuse of Power, which I chose as a theme because it is something that we usually ignore in our society. I was inspired by my background from Zimbabwe where I am from. We live in a place where it is a totalitarian state and people are scared of the government. Growing up we always feared talking about our president, “the uncle”. Similarly there is the example of a situation where a father of a home is abusive. I want to use my work to become a voice for the voiceless.

What kind of art do you experiment with?

I paint, draw and use print. I do a bit of sculpture and I create anything from nothing, like refuse material. As part of my Abuse of Power work I paint using Zim Dollar notes. It is money that has been phased out and it has lost so much power back home in Zimbabwe that we ended up using other currencies like the American Dollar, South African Rands and Botswanan Pula. The paintings are something I would not be able to exhibit in Zimbabwe.

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What are some of the struggles a young artist has to face?

The biggest struggle is the ability to sell. If you do not sell your work you cannot produce your next piece. Another challenge is getting the space to show your work, you have to build your profile before you are accepted into galleries. Also, only a few people accept art for being more than a hobby, and refuse to pay for it. Young artists are exploited. People commission our works and disappear with them soon after. As young artists we are not equipped to deal with gallery owners or patrons. As much as we want to create art for ourselves and the world, all this makes it difficult. We must take it upon ourselves to learn business acumen.

What future projects are you working on?

Currently I am working on a collaboration, my first solo show as well as getting into the Sasol Young Artist competition next month. Building a brand is something that I am also thinking about at the moment for the future.

More work by the artist:

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Bukhosi has participated in various exhibitions at the following:

Intwasa Arts Festival, Jo Anke Gallery (None But All of US, 2013), Museum Africa ( Freedom and Responsibility, 2009), I Store Gallery Sandton (2009), Museum Africa (Freedom of Mind, Body and Soul, 2011), Soweto Theatre (2012), Manor Gallery (Black Like Us Exhibtion 2012-2013).

Find out more about Bukhosi’s work on his Facebook page- Bukhosi Muzik-eyes Nyathi

Follow him on Twitter: @bukhosiArt

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