Buhle Nkalashe (b. 1994, South African) is a Cape Town-based independent artist who has been practising since 2011. Nkalashe, a painter and mixed media artist, explores the combination of different mediums.
He obtained his BA in Graphic Design from the Cape Town Creative Academy (2018). After working in advertising for two years, He shifted his focus to Visual Arts in 2019 to become a full-time artist.
Nkalashe had his debut solo, The New African, at Youngblood Africa Gallery (2018) in Cape Town. He also participated in several group exhibitions, to name a few, Top 100 for the Sanlam Portrait awards (2017), Woordfees (2019), Africa’s Art Collective Seasons at the Julie Miller Institute (2019) and Saatchi Online Campaign (South African Emerging Artist) (2019). Nkalashe was also invited by Red Room Contemporary Gallery to exhibit at the Turbine Art Fair (2019).
Throughout his life, Nkalashe has been exposed to many cultural events and ceremonies particularly in his Xhosa culture. In these gatherings, people perform rituals and ask for a blessing. During the celebration, songs are sung which tell stories and also traditional clothes are worn, mainly depicted in weddings.
Traditional clothes are very colourful and have patterns. This can also be seen in beadwork. Nkalashe is fascinated by the idea that patterns and colour can be a symbol of identity.
Inspired by how African people have evolved creatively and also the evolution and contribution of traditional patterns in a contemporary style society. Nkalashe noticed how young African people have borrowed elements from their culture to express their identity through their profession.
He noticed that the Xhosa, Zulu and Ndebele patterns are similar in terms of colour and Nkalashe felt that he needs to reimage these patterns together in a contemporary African setting to create a new hybrid South Africa.
Nkalashe is known for his contemporary artworks executed through large canvases. His work mainly consists of portraiture and abstract paintings which are made from a mixture of mediums (charcoal, acrylic paint, oil paint and oil pastels). His current work can be described as an exploration of how he sees the world and possibilities that come with it. Nkalashe has reconnected with his inner child and has been liberated by it. In this body of work, the artist shares memories and creativity he had when he was a child. He believes that by projecting the voice of his soul in these artworks, he can encourage others to walk in the journey very few do.