Visual artist & fashion designer Sakhile Cebekhulu
Sakhile Cebekhulu, known fondly as “sash’, is a multimedia visual artist and fashion designer based in JHB. He is prolific in his ideas, using different mediums to express those ideas; he paints, makes images with mixed media and designs.
I first met Sakhile at an art exhibition where he was showing his series; Isintu san’khohlwa. This is a series of self portraits which are sewn with red thread signifying a process of rediscovery. His work is deceptively simple, yet deeply emotive and expressive.
Sash’s work might seem relatively neutral but when you dissect the context, you begin to notice a thread. That thread is his need to bring to life ideas which tell authentic stories….stories authentic to him and those around him. An example of how this plays out is his fashion line which debut at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in August this year. The range; Zulu Lam’ plays on the double meaning & interpretation of ‘my fellow Zulu’ or ‘my world’…..touching on notions of identity and heritage. This was accompanied by a look-book with Kgomotso Neto collaborating as photographer. The inspiration draws from cuts, textures and aesthetics of males navigating the city….specifically taxi drivers and street vendors around taxi ranks in the city.
I was curious as to why he named his clothing brand “sash’ or why people call him by that name. Growing up he was called “the black sash” as a reference to the 1950s women’s resistance movement. These women would wear black sashes over their shoulders as they protested against apartheid laws. He reclaimed the name his peers gave him to point out and refer to his “darkness”…. I loved this story as another reminder of how history is constantly unfolding and how our connection to it is continuous. The blurred lines between the then and now.
I asked him about his recent collaboration with Levi. He laughs….this is something he does a lot…laughing. ‘This collaboration was based on ideas I’ve had for a while to express my love for music through fashion & local culture’. The project involved printing Kwaito lyrics on the Levi Trucker jacket to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
As you might have already guessed from his previous self portraiture, his work is deeply self reflective, often looking inward and questioning his own journey and history. ‘My work started subtly with just me using myself in portraits and now I’m going further into exploring what is around me; for instance; questions of migration and how this has led to the formation of different city tribes. Everything is research for me, I collect a lot of data and recently that’s been portraits. I always want to look into something on the research side and make sure it’s strong there before I get into the aesthetics.’
Sakhile is part of a wave of young artists whose work is pushing boundaries & contributing to positive representations of youth and culture in Africa. When I asked what is occupying his mind right now in terms of making new work, he responded; afro-futurism, scarification & adornments and geometry & lines as communication. I certainly look forward to him surprising and delighting us.
All photos courtesy of Sakhile.