How did you start painting?
I started to paint at home. My father bought us some powder paints and me and my brother started to paint, playing with the powder paints. Then in primary school, the teacher gave us paints – watercolours – and I did a painting of a giraffe using watercolours. That is in my memory – that first painting of the giraffe! Then later she gave us oil paints in high school. I am still using oil now - I fell in love with oil paints. They are easy to paint, they dry slowly. So I started to develop from there.
How do you come up with the ideas and stories of what to paint?
I like to paint and create my own world. Galleries in Zimbabwe in the past told me it is too much my own world - that I'm stuck in my own shell. It is wonderful that I have created this world, but it doesn't relate with other people. The stories were my own stories - kind of like a storybook for children (I have always loved the stories of The Lord of the Rings - those epic ones!)
The other thing helping me with inspiration for my paintings is on the train: hearing stories, listening to groups of people seated on the train and discussing, sometimes it can be social chatting, sometimes it is about their countries. I just listen. People from Zimbabwe get very engaged to talk about the current situation in Zimbabwe and what it is like living in South Africa. Those are stories that inspire me again and again.
My focus is social: the stories I overhear - people are always talking and there are so many stories. It becomes something I use for my art, it inspires me. The people talk about their country, their situation, out in public, on the train. So then when I'm home that story that I heard, that storyline, that inspiration now makes my work. As an artist, I like to meet with real people, real things, real experiences.
In absence of other stories, it just becomes inspiration and sometimes it becomes emotional. I think that art must also be a recording of this current time - for generations to come. So that we can reflect on and think about how do we solve these problems? There are events, things and debates of the current times that need to be recorded.
Do you think art should influence society?
I cannot change people with my art, but I can motivate people to liberate themselves - I would love people to actually liberate themselves in terms of being in the system. To change in a good way, to have more freedom. Or maybe there are only some parts of life where they don't have that freedom - so I want to tell them that they can free themselves in whatsoever they want to be. Freedom in what you want to do in life - in school, in sport - but in a way that is actually good for you and the society and it doesn't harm other people. Be you - if you feel like you just want to wear something colourful, do that. We are all different in a way - we are all creative - but we are different.
Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work of your own?
A long time back, it was the firstborn of this style of work and it was called 'The Visitor'. It was so long ago, in Zimbabwe and it is still one of my favourites. It was about a dwarf coming through from a faraway land. He was also a storyteller - he came as a visitor and then he became a storyteller. That is my favourite work.
What do you do for fun?
As a hobby, I modify small toys - planes or cars and I add on missiles, wheels and other stuff. I take parts from other toys, look for wires to use, putty. Then I paint it so it becomes something new. I get inspiration for my paintings, in terms of shapes, from these toys and changing them.
I also do love to play car games on the TV, sometimes when I’m done with work, or during the night, it is fun.
What are your plans and dreams for the future?
I would love to have a studio and art studios for others too. I like working with others in a community, so I would love to develop a place for other artists that don't have a place to work. If they want to work in a place like a studio, they can come there and have their own studio, with accommodation too, because sometimes artists find it difficult to find a place to work. If they could have that place for free – that’s what I want.
My art has always been more for me and my world, but now I feel like I must give back, I must do it for people who don't have freedom, especially like those in Zimbabwe. Also I want to spread the message for them - the oppressed ones, the voiceless... My art is for them; I am doing it for them. So that visually, people can see the other side. I want my art to visually spread the message and stories of people.
Read more and watch a short film with Kufa in studio here