South African artist bikes, paints his way through Africa
Reggie Khumalo has been traveling the length of Africa on his motorcycle creating paintings and supporting local communities for the past seven months.
Beginning his journey in his hometown Johannesburg in September of last year, Reggie has been making the long and dusty trek northwards, finally making his way into Ethiopia 3 weeks ago on his BMW F650 GS.
Reggie carries painting equipment on his journey and creates pieces along the way as he camps or stays in hostels and lodges. He is been visiting primary and secondary schools as well as artist communities, collecting stories that inspire his paintings.
He describes his paintings as commenting on injustices in African societies. “I paint about race, about women, you see them carrying stuff, they are the ones on the ground most of the time. But we are equal. I ask if a genderless world is possible.”
His acrylic paintings are filled with spray painted words and phrases that demand attention. The heavily laden paintings are filled with layers of information documenting racial, economic, gendered and other social injustices. He references period tax, black tax and what it could mean to be post-racial. ‘Where are the girls?’ is in reference to the kidnapping of girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria. ‘Talk is cheap, doers women are few’, says another.
“These are important issues. Someone has to talk about them. When I’m outside of Africa I will talk about the positives of Africa but within Africa I will talk about the negatives so that we can address them. We have to highlight that being an African is good. We have to bring back pride in ourselves. Africa can hold its own. We don’t need outside help. We have been civilized. And we civilized them too. ”
Reggie spreads this message wherever he goes. He has also been supporting local communities by focusing on education. “Education is essential in terms of thinking process, in making people aware of the resources available and how to utilize them,” he says. He supports schools with the proceeds from his art sales and hopes to give proceeds of the pieces he creates in Addis to a local NGO working with children.
But this is just the beginning for Reggie. He wants to build a program that allows young Africans to travel across the continent by bus, experiencing different cultures and helping communities through different development projects including the arts. Back home, Reggie ran his own gallery in Parkhurt, support artists in the community.
Reggie will complete his stay in Addis with an exhibition at the South African embassy on April 6th. He will then be making his way to Sudan and Egypt, after which he will be exhibiting his work at the Amsterdam Art Fair in the Netherlands Germany, and France.