Written by Katlego Kganyago

It is absolutely enchanting and inspiring to study the work of Dada Khanyisa, who has recently been awarded the prestigious 2022 FNB Art Prize. In a captivating press release, their work is articulated so beautifully: “Dada Khanyisa is a multidisciplinary artist working in paint, sculpture and installation, with a focus on the contemporary Black experience. Dada’s work comment on the human condition as it plays out in social, financial and architectural contexts in metropolises like Johannesburg and Cape Town.” 



I had the honour to interview Dada Khanyisa and learn more about their craft.

Katlego: Congratulations Dada. How does it feel being awarded the 2022 FNB Art Prize?

Dada: Thank you. It really feels amazing, and I am super honoured.

K: What is your family’s reaction to this incredible achievement?

D: They are really happy. They have been very supportive from the beginning.

K: Who do you dedicate this amazing achievement to?

D: I dedicate this to my community which also includes my family, friends and people who have been part of my life through different parts of my journey.

K: What is your strategy on leveraging this accolade?

D: (Giggles) I don’t have a strategy. I am taking it as it comes because it is a validating prize that has pushed what I was working towards. I will be focused and keep at it.

K: You have an incredible signature and form. What messages are you conveying (in your chosen mediums, scale, idiosyncrasies and narrative)?

D: I focus on the social landscape which I think is interesting, and also what the internet has done for us in keeping us super connected. That inspires me a lot, and I use a lot of wood to translate these ideas. I explore social dynamics through the use of wood. I use wood to understand my sketches more.

K: May you please describe your creative process?

D: I connect with people around me, and I translate those experiences into wood. I incorporate some painting in them afterwards.

K: Bamb’iPhone (2018) and Good Feelings (2020) exhibitions were monumental. In a walkabout video on YouTube you mention that your fascination with digital devices is a recurring element in your artworks: What statement are you making about the African digital revolution epitomised by trending videos/ content on Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp? 

D: Our generation is fascinated by cellphones and who they get to become online. I am active participant in content creation, and my work also explores that interest.

K: Your impressive background in animation and fine art is astoundingly beautiful. What were the challenges when you were studying two completely different art forms, and had to infuse the two at some point?

D: I wouldn’t say that was challenging, but the two disciplines complimented each other beautifully. They were beneficial and vital to my growth as an artist.

K: Which artist(s) do you revere and why?

D: I love Moses Sumney offerings because the visuals are captivating as much as the music.

K: What message do you have for artists who would like to follow your path?

D: Keep at it. That is how I have maintained my growth and success.

K: What has your experience in the creative industry taught you about life?

D: I have learnt patience more than anything. Sometimes when you are a younger artist, you may feel that people are sleeping on you but that is part of the process. That taught me patience.

K: What recommendations and concerns do you have for the African creative economy?

D: It would be great that we all do our best to support various art forms, because art is an important tool for social cohesion and reflection.

K: What is next for Dada Khanyisa?

D: I am focusing on a solo exhibition connected to the prize.

K: Any final thoughts?

D: I would like to thank FNB, FNB Art Joburg and EXIT.

K: You’re very welcome.



For more information on FNB Art Joburg and Dada Khanyisa’s exhibitions, visit You may also find them on Facebook at or follow @fnbartjoburg on Instagram and Twitter. LinkedIn: FNB Art Joburg.

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