EDIT MAN - Banele Khoza feature written by Nothemba Mkhondo

Banele Khoza’s striking silhouettes of male bodies and abstract figures bleed translucent, sweet-coloured hues, like watercolour on canvas. His charcoal scribbled words read like a diary — a stream-of-consciousness glimpse into the mind of an artist interrogating love, identity, and gender, with distinct vivid portraits.

His latest collection of captivating artworks, from his rst solo show Love?, is an apt interrogation of interper- sonal connections in the modern age. Khoza questions his own relationships and the emotional presence and absence of others and also considers his own gaze. “It’s the gaze of me as a gay man looking at someone that I’m intrigued by. I look at them hoping that they see me as well,” he says.

Through his acrylic painted, watercolour-like portraiture, Khoza explores the dichotomy between what we portray and who we truly are — the reality and art of imitation. “We imitate identity and gender. My use of acrylic to imitate watercolour is representative of how we perform for people and say ‘this is what I am’, when actually it’s not the reality. When I was growing up, I struggled to be the boy that people wanted me to be, but I tried to imitate that.”

Khoza’s illusory portrait artworks read like poetic prose. They capture a moment of truth — a distinct vulnerability and an intimate connection with his subject. Distilling a moment like this is a skill enabled by Khoza’s penchant for introspection and self expression.

“How my whole body of work as an artist started, was with a diary. As a child I had so many feelings that I wanted to express,” he says. “I write about all my insecurities, what I’ve been through, and sometimes even about my dreams.”

With his enthralling artworks, Khoza provides us with lens through which to understand the artist who is look- ing for meaningful connections in a digitally driven world.