Durban-based visual artist Wonder Buhle chats to VISI about what inspires his work, the importance of texture and what’s next.
When did you start creating art?
I was always a creative kid during my childhood, from playing with charcoal left over from firewood, until I finished high school when I decided to follow the calling purposefully.
What is your process when creating a piece?
I just need good music – mostly west African music. I probably start to paint from 6:30pm until the sun rises – it’s the perfect time for me to sink in and flow with the work as I paint. The whole process runs smoothly if my space is cleared.
You play around with texture quite a lot in your work. How integral is texture for you?
In general, I think texture just balances human life, it’s the side that people often hide. When I paint I always keep this in mind. Mostly it comes from the “Flowers like Stars” that I use as a symbol of guidance for these figures that I create. When I paint these I always feel accompanied by the supreme powers of the greatest that lived before me – I feel destined.
What inspires your subject matter? Are your portraits of real or imagined people?
My subject matter is inspired by many spheres of life, especially the richness of black people – the knowledge we preserve and the notions of beauty and consistency in spite of traumatic history and the negative projections we face in our daily lives. My portraits are mostly of imaginative faces. I have seen a million people for the past 30 years of my life, but there are characters that have had a strong presence, the mind never forgets them. I treat them as the chosen ones and these are the same characters that live in my paintings. I always feel they carry an important message.
What influences your colour choice?
My colour choice is influenced by the African soils, gold and the colours of the moon.
Do you have any plans for your next body of work?
Yes, I’d prefer not to say anything for now, but I’m working on a new theme called “Comfort”.
Where can people get hold of your pieces?
Most of the time, people can get my work directly through me at my studio, unless the piece you are looking for is with a gallery.