Buhle Nkalashe (SA) – Navigating life through art

Learn more about this emerging artist’s journey and how he uses art to share his experiences and hopes for the future.

Buhle Nkalashe, Contemporary artist
Buhle Nkalashe

Many of us have experienced different points in our lives when we could no longer ignore that flicker of light calling us from the great unknown.

And, only being led by an innate feeling that gnaws at us from the depths of our soul, we are compelled to abandon the familiar and take a chance on ourselves.

South African artist, Buhle Nkalashe is no stranger to this feeling. He like many artists has had to decide to leave a conventional career path for his art. And we are inspired by how he courageously continues to allow that feeling to guide him through his budding career as an independent artist.

Buhle Nkalashe has always had a creative spirit and he as a child developed a strong inclination to draw using only pencil and pen. It wasn’t until later in Grade 10 when he took up Visual Arts as a subject that he “reluctantly” began to experiment with other mediums such as pastels, and gradually incorporated the use of oil paints, acrylic and charcoal, a choice that helped him develop his art to what it is today.

The use of other mediums brought a new challenge to his artistry. And by the end of his high school years, he had started creating commissioned works of realistic portraiture for his friends and family.

“I especially enjoyed painting cultural portraits, where someone is wearing traditional beadwork and attire; and ones that reflected life in the townships.” He says.
Buhle Nkalashe, Art, New African
The Game Changer - Mixed Medium on canvas.

So, it is only fitting that as his work progresses Buhle seeks to redevelop and experiment with these designs to not only feature African culture but to amply reflect the times we live in, with the hope of incorporating other indigenous cultural prints from across the globe.

“I feel like we should develop the patterns even further to create our own interpretations. It would be a beautiful thing if all cultural creatives contributed to this.” Says Buhle.

Buhle Nkalashe’s first solo exhibition titled ‘New African’ gives us that and so much more!!

The art for the exhibition features a contemporary look at how African identities of today are shaped by both local and global cultures (glocalization). He gives us what we consider to be an ‘ode to this era’, as his art documents how African culture has evolved through the times.

"It is a unique time for Africa.”

“It is a unique time for Africa.” says Buhle, referring to the rise of the African continent. It is no surprise then that he is likewise drawn to the work of industry creatives who bring a new narrative to the culture. The much-celebrated likes of international artists Nelson Makamo, Azael Langa and fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo are some of the people that Buhle says he looks up to and hopes to collaborate with in the future.

The rise and recognition of Africa as a global contributor to arts and culture is truly growing across the globe. And as African artists begin to engage more with global platforms and audiences, there lies a unique opportunity that Buhle thinks will give them more control of their narrative and how Africa is represented on the global stage.

Contemporary art, art exhibition, Buhle Nkalashe
Buhle Nkalashe - Re-awakening Exhibition 2019

His second and most recent exhibition ‘Re-awakening’ was inspired by a notable stage of the artist's life. With provocative statements such as “Bring me to life or I will haunt you for eternity” painted across his work; and titles like “The act of fear”, this emotive art is strongly connected to Buhle’s experience that led him to finally hang up the corporate suit and fully immerse himself into his artistic practice.

Caught between his work as a Graphic Designer, and being an artist. Buhle finally took the plunge in 2019 when he decided to follow his heart and continue his passion by focusing only on his art.

And thus, re-awakening that which he had always loved and enjoyed as a child.

“This exhibition was a result of a conversation that I had with myself; and I just wanted to encourage others to be aware of their inner-child. I give that inner child a louder voice through my art.” Says Buhle.

He has truly discovered a unique way to connect us to our youth, as his art not only speaks to his soul-searching experience but, it has us searching for the child within ourselves, giving us the space to wonder - at what point in our lives did we leave it behind…?

Buhle Nkalashe, Contemporary Art,
A walk through the grave - Mixed medium on canvas

As a new and emerging artist, Buhle has made a habit of betting on himself.

This emerging artist manages various aspects of his business and has positioned himself to learn the ropes of the industry first-hand.

However challenging, Buhle often handles his planning, logistics, marketing and additional costs for the framing and transportation of his artworks which can be challenging for a new artist. But, also overall rewarding as he is developing the know-how that will help him to navigate the business side of his practice.

Buhle's most recent leap of faith (and definitely not his last) has seen him move across the country from Cape Town to Johannesburg where he will once again brave the unfamiliar to culminate new experiences that will contribute to his art and growth as an artist.

With an exhibition in the works, Buhle is looking forward to the end of the lockdown period in South Africa so he can begin to share his latest artworks with his new art community.

His upcoming exhibition titled, Unknown will be held at the fine art gallery, Gallery2 in association with Lizamore & Associates in Johannesburg. The artists approach to visualising the human condition and interpretation of his experiences, whilst honouring his cultural heritage makes him a unique storyteller that we are truly excited to follow.

We cannot wait to see what comes next for Buhle Nkalashe as he continues on his journey to raise the bar and brave new experiences. Check out more of his amazing artworks below.

You can learn more about Buhle Nkalashe on or follow him on Instagram @the_new_african

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