Charles Bhebe

The human condition has been constantly evolving and undergoing physical and psychological changes for decades. Change is inevitable, as the human beings need to survive and justify their existence in relation to their surroundings. Issues of existentialism have always been crucial to how mankind seeks out belonging on this earth and is a means to search our individual identities. Belonging has created a new form of radicalisation of nationalism and the questions of place, history, origin and identity arise.
In my quest to understand and redefine the ideas of who we are, I chose to tap into exploring the human state of being and how they react to advancements. We exist in a world that has become so technologically advanced and virtual. Our identities are now intertwined with the tech world and mankind faces the risk of losing authentic selves in the process of redefining themselves in the 21st century. My work interrogates social perceptions and hopes that come with chasing belonging.
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On his art.

I define my art pieces as urban narratives. They tell colourful stories of city men and women. These are individuals existing on the edges of the social spectrum. My goal is to give these people a voice. Hustlers of the streets. I find them interesting and beautiful. Full of colour. Largely ignored by everyone else or seen as a nuisance it’s a social thing, recognising another human being.

On finding Inspiration for his work.

All of my work has a purpose. After a period of learning the basics, like drawing and painting and mastering the art. I asked myself. What next? What comes after? There is so much untold in this place we call home. There is so much about how we live. Art for me is the purpose. Its not only aesthetic that matters but the challenge that the narratives present to anyone who encounters them. I am telling the story of the ordinary and ignored individuals.

What interests you about your subjects.

They are colourful but we don’t recognise them and i call them the invisible elements. We see them everyday but don’t give them recognition. They are seen as a problem and not appreciated for their contribution to the economy.

Finding a context for your work.

In my quest to understand and redefine the ideas of who we are, I chose to tap into exploring the human state of being and how they react to their substantial existance .

How people perceive your work

My idea is to question that who am I speaking to. I am directing my work to society to the authorities. Above all, I want the subjects I’m painting to recognise themselves in my work. For these people it may be a little light in the darkness but i want them to say, “I can see myself in this work”.

On the need for Art education.

Art appreciation is a difficult context in most  societies because Art is seen as an elitist pursuit. There is need to grow an art literate societies.

What kind of artist are you?

I always try to be a mirror to society. Casting light to what already exists. There exists a lot of social ills that bother me or captivate me . I want to put them out there, whether it’s accepted or not.

Influence to be an artist

I believe artists are born not made. Growing up in the 80’s, then the idea of art was people asking “Can you draw me?” For example there was City hall street artists who would draw portraits of people on the streets and for many, that was the definition of art. We grew up different, the need for expression and telling a diferent narrative than capturing the aesthetic but try to evoke emotion. Art was always an urge that existed in me.

Art background.

I studied at the Mzilikazi Art & Craft Centre. My interest was in drawing and painting, thats what I was taught. I settled for acrylics on canvas because it’s a fast-drying process with instant images. I was trained on watercolour and painted mostly figurative drawings.

Current work

My current aesthetic is self taught. It was an Artistic decision. Initially my work was on plain canvas i started priming my canvas black. My canvases are devoid of light I found an understanding in this darkness. An image comes out of this  darkness and that’s how it began.

All My work begins from this black background. There is already an image when it’s black, you just have to bring it  out. Unlike when painting on white canvas and one has to create an image on it. I like to bring out things out of the darkness. Its like the people I paint, they are in the dark corners & my idea is to bring those individuals to light. On canvas.