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In Conversation With The Artist

'I am no one without I' - Thabiso Charles Kholobeng

‘My work evokes emotions, movement, space, time, perceptions and stigmas. In the body of my work I am trying to take back my pride and identity of being a squint in my society’ said Kholobeng in our conversation about his work of art.

‘My work evokes emotions, movement, space, time, perceptions and stigmas. In the body of my work I am trying to take back my pride and identity of being a squint in my society’ said Kholobeng in our conversation about his work of art.

Looking at Kholobeng’s work, one is ought to question the creative process involved behind his art making. He uses his squint eye to communicate with his outside world. His art is informed by a hazy visual fundamental nature of depiction. In his work, the viewer is invited to become a squint provisionally, as he engages with Kholobeng’s fine art.

For Thabiso Kholobeng, the association of greys and blacks in his silkscreen prints make it suited to an aesthetic that registers the acquaintance of vision as much as it plays with the filtering of experience and the materialization of memory. The world of Kholobeng is drawn with some profound memories of his childhood – having being called names, mocked and significantly isolated from other children from just merely having a squinted eye. ‘I remember as a child I used to be judged and overlooked as I couldn’t see things the way a normal person does because of my eye-sight problems. But as I grow older I realized that through my art I have an authority to change the perceptions and the isolation I endured from the society for the best of my childhood’ recalls Kholobeng.

The philosophical insight and depth of his creativity bring fourth the objects in their universal implications. The subject matter strongly operates through the eye, expressing and conveying his state of feeling. The use of a silkscreen is a proper medium of his language. In this body of work entitled; ‘I Am No One Except I’ Kholobeng renders a straight forward message of his personal way of perceiving things. He intends to change the widely accepted assumptions of the society viewing squinted people as less human being. His business is not with the presentation of such stereotypical views but the communication of his emotional reaction to them.

‘I grew up a squint, so instead of looking outward I decided to look inward in terms of my subject matter and communicates how it feels to be a squint. The minute you look at my work you feel the bleary vision and you become a squint for that moment. It is amazing to see the respond I get from my audience’ added Kholobeng.

The rhythm of lines, massing of forms and grey tones most communicates successive stages in the artist’s mind. The repetition of the lines and figures in his images suggest pulse of shadows and movements, highlights and reflections and clarity of space and time. Emerging from the discipline of visual literacy and the aesthetic of silkscreen printmaking, Kholobeng uses his camera to document the domesticity and social life of the people he encountered.

Text by: Khehla Chepape Makgato,
Newtown, Jhb
August 2011

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