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"I want to see the energy I have spreading and growing, I do not want it to choke me" - Interview with Hloniphani Dube
Marko Phiri,
May 2011

Read interviews with other Bulawayo creatives here

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Meet Hloniphani Dube, a Bulawayo visual artist whose paintings are now found as far a field as Bermuda. He speaks about his muses and everything in between. He is one of the few artists in the city who works from a private studio where he says his creative juices can ooze without any distractions.

Where is your creative energy birthed?
I think visually. I give birth at any time. My work comes from meditation. Every waking moment provides inspiration, but I think inspiration and push are two different things. I am always inspired every second of my life. There is time when I am pushed to transfer my thoughts. It is all about time, mythical time. If I have to give birth at night, I will give birth at night, if it is in the morning, then let it be. Listen

Does Bulawayo offer stories unique to itself?
I think Bulawayo art is more independent because artists and people in general express exactly how they feel. What I mean is when you look at other places; issues some people would say are not pertinent influence the different art forms. Bulawayo guys will use their hearts to express how they feel and it can be seen in the work that has emerged and is emerging from the city. Listen

How do you read the issue of Bulawayo artists and other creatives seemingly always having brushes with the law?
If you are an artist, you are not a politician. If you want politics you sign in for being a politician, but if they [the authorities] are not happy with your vibes and decide to punish you, let them punish you as a politician not an artist. They [politicians] always punish each other, so why not punish you if you have decided to be a politician. Listen

But I figure Bulawayo's creative industries generally have influences specific to their circumstances and artists cannot be asked not to document this. Therefore it is likely that there is going to be conflict somewhere, somehow, with the people in charge of punishing.

Where can your work be found? Have you done some exhibitions and installations, which is the dream of any artist?
My work is all over southern Africa and I have also done an exhibition in Bermuda. The thing with art is that our work can be found all over the world because a lot of different people buy it and we do not always know where it goes, which is not our concern really as long as we get something out of it. Showing my work is important because art for me is a communication tool and for it to be relevant, it must reach people. Listen

The life of an artist is one usually depicted as one of hardship, living from hand to mouth, living off painting, something some people still do not consider a proper occupation. What are your thoughts on that?
Artists can live off their work if they are loyal to their muses without compromising. And not in search of the big pay check. And when you do that that is when you get cheated. You find you cannot do anything when you begin to compromise your work and commercialise your creations. Art is generally a loner's craft. If you are not a loner, you won't get where you need to be.

Do you share your experiences as an artist with young aspiring artists?
I want to see the energy I have spreading and growing. I do not want it to choke me. Because I have lots of it I have to help other young minds grow. The thing is, you cannot really teach art but only help nurture what is an already present, and help mould it. I do workshops around Bulawayo and I share my knowledge with children from KGVI [School of the Disabled]. It provides important therapy for the disabled kids and some have actually grown enough in their art to have an exhibition. That is what I am interested in: giving from my own experience.

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