Black Visual Artist Chat – Khaldun Oluwa

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Khaldun Oluwa is a masterful oil painter who’s craft has truly been pivotal in his self-transformation. His art personifies the ingenious spirit of black people; unveiling their rich heritage as being descendants of the originators of civilization. Get a closer view of Khaldun and his superb visuals in our conversation.

Me: Can you speak on the significance of using art as a form of activism?

Khaldun: The significance of what I paint, you can actually say it’s activism to the extent that I’m telling the truth about black people and our history within this society that is hiding the truth. Some of us aren’t reading insightful things and even highly educated black people are so detached from the reality of who we are and where we stand at this particular time. So, I have to put pictures in front of you because your eyes are the immediate response of the brain. When you see something you already have a reasoning process. I feel I have to do this because as a black person I’m not detached from my experience of being black. I know my ancestors came here as slaves and I know that we weren’t allowed to read or write for 300 years. I know all of these things to this point right now where I myself am a descendant of all the degradation, dehumanization and everything else that they went through.

“The significance of what I paint, you can actually say it’s activism to the extent that I’m telling the truth about black people and our history within this society that is hiding the truth.”

Khaldun: So, if that is going on with me, then I know that all black people are under this same guise where they’re continually trying to hide this info from us to keep us psychologically distraught. That’s why we don’t know how to interact with each other, and we don’t understand the reality of God being within ourselves. It’s an important thing to me that I paint these things. That’s why I paint the gloriousness of the pyramids or the golden age because that’s the truth. Our ancestors have been creating pyramids, and statues all over the Earth before there was even a white man here. They had already mapped out the cosmos. When we see our history it has to start with God because we are the original people.

Me: Wow, you mentioned a lot of great points in terms of the whitewashing of our history for a very long time. I think now people are really starting to rediscover our true history.

Khaldun: Yea, because they’re finding evidence of us everywhere. They’re finding it under the ocean, in the mountains, in space, and even in the Antarctic. This is not just me making things up, it’s based in scientific fact. There’s nothing else for them to know unless we put it here. How’s a caveman going to create a language, or drawings, and writing? Somebody had to show them that. That’s the reason why we have the word, civilization. Black people are the archetype not the prototype.

R"evolution"

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Me: Yea, that’s the truth, everything does start from African people.

Khaldun: Even if we talk in the quantum physics type of stuff, we utilized the idea of black matter. Black matter composes the whole universe, which means that everything was made out of black matter. You can only create a black piece of matter out of black matter, and everything else descends from that.

Me: It’s great to finally be able to reclaim that hidden history, I think it’s significant to be able to uplift us as a culture and be able to progress.

Khaldun: Definitely. That has to happen. That’s not some type of prayer or political view, that’s reality. It’s happening now, here we are talking about it. We are now creating a platform and stage to the digital age to place our truth. It is the truth of all humanity not just some black radicalism or activism. Now that we are stating it, the ideas of falseness can’t even stand around it. That’s the manifestation of what some of us refer to as Allah or God and that’s within you. The mind is the most powerful thing in the universe, there’s nothing that you cannot comprehend. If you see it you can comprehend it. Once you learn how to control your thoughts and you take the time to actually think on those things, then you are the master of your own mind. 

“The mind is the most powerful thing in the universe, there’s nothing that you cannot comprehend. If you see it you can comprehend it.” 

Me: Man, you dropping wisdom early in the game, we only on the first question (laughing)! That’s great though especially just coming into your own enlightenment and have that awakening in getting to know yourself. I think that’s the most important thing in achieving higher consciousness.

Khaldun: (Laughing) Thank you brother. It’s to bring us forward as a people. We’re ungrateful because we don’t know. We’re so ignorant that we’re self-destructive. That’s why I have to paint it because I’m not separate from nobody. When you deal with me, you’re dealing with a nigga. I’m not saying this to be vulgar, but I’m saying it because I was the same way during my teenage years. I still do some of the same things I used to do. Yes I’m educated now but everything I strive for comes from the realization of not knowing who I am. That came in a time where I didn’t have nothing else to believe in.

Khaldun: When you’re going through certain things in life whether you’re close to death or locked up, you’re going to be looking for God or Jesus or something. That’s where the discouragement, the disbelief, or the lack of caring comes into play because you’re in an undesirable situation and you feel like you have no way to get out of it. I’ve been there and that’s how the knowledge came to me. I heard other brothers talking about it and I would read some books so it was all a matter of me going inside of myself. I can’t be saying God come bless me and I’m running around with guns or stealing with my boys. Where’s the blessing going to come from? We don’t have an understanding of the consequential universe. The things that you do are going to come back to you. Every thought, everything you do, any type of energy you put out into the universe is going to manifest itself. You need to know how to utilize the energies of the universe because when you do good things, they’re going to come back to you. You should be the one who can control your consequences based on how you apply what you know.

“Every thought, everything you do, any type of energy you put out into the universe is going to manifest itself. You need to know how to utilize the energies of the universe because when you do good things, they’re going to come back to you.”

Me: Wow! Getting deep over here, love what you’re saying though! (laughing) Could you dive deeper into some of your pieces that reflect the activism aspect?

Khaldun: Any pieces that you’d like me to explain?

Me: Yea, there’s actually this one piece that I saw called Empiric.

Khaldun: Gotcha, that piece depicts a queen who’s based on a lot of Alkebulanic tribes that I love. Alkebulan was the proper name for Africa before it was invaded by Arabs and Europeans. I don’t like to refer to the continent as Africa at all because that’s the name of a conquered place. If you study Cornelius Africanus then you’ll understand. I used the Empiric ideology to give my people a sense of empowerment. When you see that you’re empowered because that’s royalty in blackness. Now, that’s not something that you are detached from, that’s what you are. In ancient times, that’s how you were depicted. I have to put it in front of us so it’s not a foreign idea to you anymore. The more that you look at it and the more that you think about it, the more it becomes a part of you.

"Empiric" Oil on canvas 20H x 16W inches. The ETERNAL Lives in Black Matter.

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Me: That’s powerful brother! Another thing about Empiric is that it reflects the power of the black woman being the one who birthed civilization.

Khaldun: Not only that, she’s the mother of the universe. Every human came from a woman. I always want to give praises to the sisters man. I think about the things we had to go through all of these years of rape and the children being cut out of the mother’s stomach. So much has happened yet we don’t know because we weren’t the ones keeping the records, we weren’t allowed to read or write during that time. They have totally desensitized the reality of our struggle to the point where many don’t even care about it anymore. We’ve become comfortable in our darkness. Somebody actually bought that picture right after I finished painting it. They bought that one and another one called Omniscient.

“We’ve become comfortable in our darkness.”

Me: Yea, I’m not surprised! Can you tell me more about Omniscient?

Khaldun: That comes from a collection I have called Grey Matter which is on my website. I have to make sure that we recognize our elders for the sake of our own honing of wisdom and knowledge. They have to be the ones to pass it down to us. The Grey Matter series focuses on keeping our knowledge and stories sacred to us. You see the elders with the grey earrings, the grey beards, and their grey hair. All of those are symbolic to the profundity and wisdom of who we are. For someone to live to a certain age and have a certain degree of knowledge, we should think highly of them.

Me: That’s a dope collection!

Khaldun: Thank you brother.

Me: Why did you choose the name Omniscient?

Khaldun: If you break it down Omniscient comes from the root word (omni) which means all knowing. I think that the elders have to be all knowing because that’s a characteristic of God itself.

Me: What tribes inspired the Grey Matter series?

Khaldun: Awww man, the Zulu, San Bushman, Masai, Ashanti there’s just so many tribes! I definitely got to make reference to the Dogon because those are the ones who could tell you all about the stars like Siris B. There’s a book written about them called Conversations with Ogotemmeli. I read it in two days and I was blown away.

Me: Wow, I’m going to check that out, appreciate that. We building over here! Describe your upbringing, where you’re originally from – when you started painting, family background, and education.

Khaldun: I’m from Atlanta. I had a regular upbringing, a lot of friends, everybody knew everybody. I was raised very well, my mom made me a very strong man. Again, coming from the womb of the universe. I’ve always been artistic. My mom always made sure I had coloring books, pencils, paper, and African type of books as a child. The art in the books were what really inspired me to see black people and the way they were drawn. My painting influence came from a brother named Jesse Owens who was a master oil painter from Chicago.

Khaldun: He was a 74 year old brother – the most phenomenal painter I’ve ever met and he had cataracts. For two years I sat with him everyday. He would sit and school me on what he does. Still till this day, everything he has shown me almost 17 years ago, a lot of it is now resurfacing as I’m painting more. So, I have to give him all the credit for that. He was the one who told me, “you’re not ever going to be a good oil painter unless you do it for a long time.” That’s why it’s called a discipline because you have to learn how to discipline yourself to apply the knowledge you do.

“That’s why it’s called a discipline because you have to learn how to discipline yourself to apply the knowledge you do.”

Me: Wow, I have to look him up.

Khaldun: (Laughing) You won’t be able to find him because I met him in prison brother. I was locked up for nine years for robbing a bank. I used to be a thug but then I got on something different man. I still am that way, but the way to bring change doesn’t have anything to do with going and taking what your oppressor has. Change comes by bringing in what your people need. You going and stealing and protesting is nothing but going to the very people who created the condition that you’re in. That don’t change nothing. We’re still marching for the same thing now that we were back then.

Me: Powerful words! Going back to when you were a kid, were you creating these types of  images of black people that you’re doing now?

Khaldun: Nah, that came later on in the painting process. My love for the art came from comic books and the coloring books which featured mostly white people at the time.

Me: Gotcha. So, during your time in prison, the master painter Jesse was the one who played a major role in your style of painting?

Khaldun: I can’t say he influenced the style but he definitely influenced my whole creative approach to oil painting. That’s what I consider myself to be as of now because that’s all I do. I can draw, I used to draw tattoo patterns for brothers in the joint. The story with Jesse Owens is so profound because he just came up to me out of nowhere. I’ve never seen him in the joint before where we were at in Greenville, Illinois. One day, he just came up to me and he said he was an artist and I didn’t know anything about painting back then. He started some pieces in front of me and then within the next couple of days I was hooked. I got my easel and some paint and just sat there and painted with him everyday. Not to glorify the joint because it’s a horrible place to be, but for somebody like me it did me very well. It let me find me.

“I got my easel and some paint and just sat there and painted with him everyday.”

Me: Thank you for being so honest in mentioning that you went to prison, as black men a lot of us do go through those types of barriers which are set there on purpose for us to fail. Would you like to dive deeper into that difficult time?

Khaldun: It wasn’t really a difficult time because that’s what made me who I am. I’ll use an allegory for you to grasp where I’m coming from. You get a diamond (all it is is a rock), but it takes all types of minerals and things in the ground to develop it. Its strength and beauty is going to be determined on how much of the Earth’s pressure it has to form for a long period of time until somebody digs it up. Once they find it in the Earth the magnificence of it is based on how it’s processed, which is an applied knowledge.

Me: Wow, you dropping gems over here brother! Would you say being able to paint during that time you were in prison was therapeutic for you as well?

Khaldun:  Yes, because then I could have something to actually do other than writing or reading or watching tv. They give you everything you need to stay distracted like dominos and cards, sports, and magazines. Once you get out, they put you on probation and tell you to find a job. But, you can’t find a job because you just got out and you do what you feel is best. I’ve seen almost everybody that got out were back in prison within 90 days. I was in Federal prison man with people who already done like 20 or 30 years. The person that taught me how to paint was already locked up for over 30 years.

“I was in Federal prison man with people who already done like 20 or 30 years. The person that taught me how to paint was already locked up for over 30 years.”

Khaldun: That’s another reason why I got to give Jesse praise because he said, “you young dude don’t even know that when you’re talking to me you’re talking to yourself.” I seen the light after he said that. He also told me that if I learn how to paint then it’ll bring me a lot of wealth.

Me: So he really laid that groundwork for you as a professional artist.

Khaldun: Indeed. I got out of prison in February 2004 and by that August I was enrolled at Hudson County Community College in upstate New York. I graduated from there and got an academic scholarship to attend the University of Dallas. I didn’t graduate from the University though. I’m also a writer man, I just don’t do it much anymore because I paint. Who I’m trying to reach damn sure ain’t gonna read what I’m writing. If I put the pictures in their face, then we can have a much stronger conversation. I’m trying to reach people who I’m around everyday, the ones that don’t have a home or the mothers that are struggling or the young dudes that don’t know what to do with themselves. That’s why a lot of them do come to me because they know that I can relate to them. I’m not Obama or John Lewis, I’m right there with them. We have to learn to figure it out for ourselves.

“I’m trying to reach people who I’m around everyday, the ones that don’t have a home or the mothers that are struggling or the young dudes that don’t know what to do with themselves.”

Me: Yea, great points right there too, especially with using the art to spark those much needed conversations and help enlighten our people with different messages. Art is vital.

Khaldun: Definitely. Man, our people have built the pyramids and temples. They put the art in those places. They made landmarks and monuments in mountains. Go look up Lalibela in Ethiopia, go look up Aksum. That’s where the Judaism idea comes from. Once you study the pyramids then you’ll see how divine you really are. They had underwater waves underneath. Our people had ways to utilize energy to manifest the electricity without wires! Now, you have a whole civilization that they found under the ocean called Thonis. Go look up the pyramids out in the Antarctic, the Bermuda Triangle, and Costa Rica. They’re everywhere. Pyramids are a universal mathematics of architectural design.

“Once you study the pyramids then you’ll see how divine you really are.”

Me: I read that there’s even pyramids in the US in They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima. While I was reading it and finding out that there were black people in America way before any Europeans.

Khaldun: You heard of the Dark Age. Europeans were only on this Earth for about 6,000 years. 4,000 of those were spent in caves. You have records of black people being in this land for over 50,000 years. Your story starts from God. You don’t come from primitivity you come from divinity. You’re going to be a reflection of what put you here. You need to go learn that – go learn the universe, cartography, and kinesiology because it’s your science.

Me: Wow! I got to let that marinate for a minute and let it soak in! (laughing) Once I saw your work, I knew you was going to have a lot of knowledge.

Khaldun: (Laughing) What got you to do what you did, that’s exactly why I paint! Because now as I said, once you see it we can converse about it. You’re not going to know what I’m talking about until I elaborate on it then you’re going to know because it’s going to be a part of your knowledge. As a matter of fact, it’s already your knowledge, I’m just giving it back to you. You just need to see it.

"Empress" 2016 Oil on canvas 24H x 20W inches.

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Me: You do that well with the art!

Khaldun: Thank you bro! I’m writing lectures with my paintings. When you look at them you can actually have a lecture series. I’m writing with the oils.

“I’m writing lectures with my paintings.”

Me: Mannn, that’s phenomenal words! That’s going on my IG right there!

Khaldun: Thank you! Hook it up man! I’m going to like and share them too! (laughing)

Me: So you mentioned that you went to community college in upstate New York. What was that experience like?

Khaldun: It was awesome man! First of all, I didn’t know what a cell phone was. When I got locked up we had those big old box cell phones. Once I got out then mostly everybody had these sleek cell phones so I was out of touch with technology. When it was time for me to go apply for school online, I didn’t know anything about the internet, I didn’t even know how to use a computer. Those were things I had to learn. I say this part because I got so frustrated when it came time to use one in college. I was like fuck this but then this young brother showed me how to use one. I took that info and ran with it, now I design websites as well and I help my brothers with theirs. I always try to give to my people. Once you get the info, then you’re going to be able to do your own thing.

“I always try to give to my people. Once you get the info, then you’re going to be able to do your own thing.”

Me: Much respect for that!

Khaldun: Thank you man, that’s what I’m supposed to do. I don’t ask nobody for nothing. That’s how the creativity continues to grow with me because now I can take in the ideas from the digital realm. If you can see the idea in your mind, then you already can do it. You just have to make it happen. A lot of black people have a problem working for themselves because they think being employed means going to work for a white man. I work for myself. I’m a construction worker, and a carpenter. I do fiber-optic lines and build homes. I built up my own galleries where we do art shows as well as run production studios.

“If you can see the idea in your mind, then you already can do it. You just have to make it happen.”

Me: Wow, you got all types of talents! That’s great that you have that entrepreneurial spirit just to be able to start initiatives and create your own platforms. Can you tell me more about the company that you run, Eternal Blackness.

Khaldun: It encompasses the woodwork – I make my own frames and stretching to building furniture and framing houses, I have a shed that I do everything out of. That teaches me independence because now I can control my work output. I don’t have to go buy canvas and stretchers. I’ll make them myself and I’ll put the pictures on them too. I don’t say that to sound arrogant but I say that so my people can see me do it and come on with it. You don’t know me but you just reached out to me because you saw yourself in the work. You had to know more about it. Now that you’ve expounded more on yourself, you can even expound more about it in your writing. That’s the beautiful thing because now you are performing the mastery of your craft based on the expansion of your mind. That’s where creativity starts, that’s why it’s called creativity because it comes from a creator. Then it becomes a creation and if you make it into a physical form then it becomes a creature.  

Me: That’s dope man! Drop the mic! (laughing)

Khaldun: (Laughing)

Me: Describe how you approach your creative process – what’s your ideal environment to bring out your full range of creativity?

Khaldun: I don’t really know I just do it (laughing). I could never paint everything I think of, I try but it’s too much. My ideas are infinite man. Sometimes I don’t really see the vision but once I start painting it comes to me. I may see what I want to paint in my head but then the idea may get bigger than the canvas I got (laughing). My paintings come from things I’ve read, things I’ve seen or envisioned, myself, things going on in the news, my education. I rebel against anything that has been taught to me from a European perspective. In doing that, I have to go outside of my mind because that’s all it has been based on; European ideology. That’s what makes them divine as well, because they’re coming out of a darkness, they’re coming out of something that was not even there. When I bring it out of myself and put it on the canvas, it’s showing me too because I’m writing from within myself. My ideal environment is working from home. I have my own studio set up where me and some of the brothers come through and we do collaborations.

“I rebel against anything that has been taught to me from a European perspective. In doing that, I have to go outside of my mind because that’s all it has been based on; European ideology.”

Me: Cool, and what type of music do you like to listen to while you paint?

Khaldun: I listen to lots of Jazz and Neosoul, me and my wife are music lovers. But when I’m in my zone, I’m listening to West Side Gunn, Conway the Machine, Rock Marciano, and Quadir Lateef. That’s what I’m vibing to. I like that gutter raw East Coast type of Hip Hop.

Me: That’s what’s up. I never heard of them, I got to look them up. If you could collaborate with any artist on an upcoming piece who would it be and why?

Khaldun: I’d collaborate with Baba Nochi. We’ve actually collaborated before, if you check the website he’s on there too. I love his artwork. In fact, he’s probably one of the only artists I’ll ever really collaborate with. We just vibe like that, the egos and the other stuff don’t get in the way of what we’re doing. We don’t put any restrictions on each other’s work. It’s two brothers expressing their divine power together as one. It’s a universe (one verse) that’s coming together.

“We don’t put any restrictions on each other’s work. It’s two brothers expressing their divine power together as one.”

Me: I like that man, two brothers working together to create a masterpiece. In your opinion, what do you think young black visual artists can do to create more opportunities for themselves?

Khaldun: Whatever you’re trying to do you just got to do it bro. Don’t be going around thinking you got to have 1,000 followers in order to get put on or going to galleries asking to be put on. All of these things are good don’t get me wrong, but if you’re really trying to do something for yourself, you have to hone your skills and make sure what you’re saying is from you. That will be your signature or imprint on how you are introduced to the world. Once you have an original story that people are able to relate to, then you’ll have much more support. 

Khaldun: I’m successful when I paint a story like Black Matter Lives, Eternally. It depicts Imhotep sitting on his throne and the whites at the bottom including the guy who came up with the theory that we evolved from monkeys. At the top of the painting you’ll see that I used the atom, the Caduceus, and the molecules because those are what Imhotep brought to the world. When I paint something like that and one of the sisters comes and buys it, and she tells me that “the ancestors made sure that they brought me here” – I’m successful. That’s what I wanted it to do. Make sure you’re saying something. If you’re pissed about the police, paint that. If you’re mad about Trump, paint that. If you don’t like where you live or what you’re going through, paint it.

Me: Wow, that’s the powerful thing about art, the fact that you can use it as a voice to express things that aren’t in the mainstream especially in regards to the global African community as a whole.

Khaldun: Definitely. Africa’s suffering too. It’s a universal victimization man. Even though we’re the progenitors of civilization – language, math, art; they only made us learn some words and serve them for life. Now we have to think about the justice that has to be served for stealing the country, it’s people, and all of the killing, raping, debauchery, and lies. It has to come back, that’s the universal law. That’s why it’s called a judgment day in the bible. But, we’ve been taught to understand it from the very people who oppressed us. That’s why we turn the other cheek. We’re so ingrained with this devilish mentality from the Europeans that we can’t think no other way. If you look at one of my paintings, MAKE Believe, the black God is pouring the wrath on them.

Me: It’s like how the saying goes – what goes around, comes around. Your work definitely tells some incredible stories man! What piece of yours is the most powerful in terms of the messages it portrays?

Khaldun: It’s hard to pick just one bro, but I would say some of my most powerful pieces are – The Doom at Hand, Make Believe, Truth Justice Freedom, and Celestial Bodies in Motion.

Me: Those are some powerful pieces bro!

Khaldun: Thank you bro! When I’m painting, I’m looking at my pictures from within myself. When other people see it, it reflects back on them. Now you are seeing your thoughts and your feelings manifesting in front of you. It’s easier for the mind to comprehend things when it sees them. Your eyes are that direct conduit to the brain.  

“When I’m painting, I’m looking at my pictures from within myself.”

Me: Mannn! I got to take a moment and digest that! (laughing) It’s like when you’re talking to somebody and what they say just changes your perception on things.

Khaldun: Right. Now it’s a whole lot of things coming to your mind. We are relaying information on higher things now. That’s what makes it even better.

Me: Do you have any other literature that you’d like to recommend?

Khaldun: Awww man, yea it’s so many! The Kybalion, The Bible, The Quaran, The Torrah, Sanskrit, The Medu Neter, Jazzy Melanin, and The Fall of America are some of my pivotal books. Also, I recommend anything by authors – Ben-Jochannan, Cheikh Diop, John Henrik Clarke, Elijah Muhammad, Farrakhan, Naim Akbar, Frances Cress Welsing. The further we go back into our history, the further we go into our future. Our ancestors already learned how to fold time, they already mapped the thermonuclear fusion, and gravity. They already traveled through space. They were the ones that did all of these magnificent things. That’s why they think aliens did it because they can’t even comprehend the idea of us doing that.

“Our ancestors already learned how to fold time, they already mapped the thermonuclear fusion, and gravity. They already traveled through space.”

Me:  Wow, it really is nothing new under the sun. When did you start actually selling your paintings?

Khaldun: About five years ago, that’s when I really got serious about it. I had an art show and some people came down to buy my stuff. Back then I was just honing my skill again and trying to figure out what I wanted to say. When I started putting myself out there, that’s when people took to me. What I do, you’re not going to see in a contemporary art museum. You’re not going to see it on network tv. I already know that so I don’t strive for that. I’m not willing to compromise or try to fit in. I’m setting my own standard for myself. I could easily get a statement and a cd together and start sending it out to all of these galleries and museums. It’s like getting a resume together to send out for a job. I don’t really care about none of that shit. I work for myself. This is what I work towards what we’re doing now with this discussion.

“I’m not willing to compromise or try to fit in. I’m setting my own standard for myself.”

Me: That’s what’s up, I really respect that man!

Khaldun: Thank you. Me too man, this is awesome. They can’t determine what’s artsy to me because I’m more masterful then most of those who are talking about the art. Like I said, I’m an oil painter.

Me: Yea, I heard oil is one of the most difficult mediums to use.

Khaldun: Of course, that’s why I do it because it’s a mastery of art. Even the guys I know who use projectors and all this other shit, they still say you the man because you can oil paint. That comes from sitting my ass down and messing up a whole lot and trying to figure out how to make it right. I state it proudly because I worked very hard to get to this point.

Masai

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Me: It definitely shows, you are a master, for real!

Khaldun: Thank you bro.

Me: It’s much deserved. Are there any other artists in your family?

Khaldun: My wife, she’s a photographer, a cook, an editor, she’s a dynamic woman! Check her out (IG: @supperwithmichelle). She’s my high school sweetheart too. I’ve known her for almost 30 years even through my stupidity and ignorance. That’s another thing as a man being able to love, understand, and relate to your woman. She taught me how to do that. Love itself is the highest level of understanding. You can’t love nobody unless you know how to love yourself. What’s the proof of that? You’re the only person around you all the time. Then you’ll be able to understand the person that you’re having the relationship with on the highest level.   

“Love itself is the highest level of understanding.”

Me: Wooo man, I’m just speechless right now brother!

Khaldun: (Laughing) That’s alright brother, just write it and put it out there. Then we’re going to have higher responses and a higher level of communication. From that you can keep on building. You can’t build shit if you don’t got nothing to build on. You’re already doing that, you have a nice catalog. You’re actually talking with these people and writing this stuff down, that’s a plus man! That shit ain’t no joke! I usually don’t like doing interviews but I’ve seen your writing and I see what you’re doing – I love that. I said, ‘well damn not only is it for me, it’s for the young brother.’ Now this can be something where you can take your craft and your skills and put it out into the world how you want. Again, it’s one verse coming together.

Me: Thank you, that really means a lot! Do you and your wife ever collaborate with your projects?

Khaldun: She takes all of the pictures of my work that you see on my website. She takes care of all the merchandise when I have a show too. Other than that she uses me as a hand model for her food. I build displays for her shows as well.

Me: Cool, y’all are getting it as a unit! What was the most challenging piece you’ve done?

Khaldun: Min was my hardest one on many different levels. If you see him on my website you’ll see him standing on the square of truth and he’s holding his phallus in his hand but his phallus is a fist. It was a challenge because of what it’s saying and the time that I did it. It symbolizes the new black power that you got to have testicular fortitude. I had to give us a new sense of black power. When I was painting this I got a lot of flack from people because they weren’t understanding it.

Khaldun: I love it because I was able to explain myself. We up here gang banging, beating up our women – all this self-destructive stuff. But, when a white man shoots a little boy down, ain’t nobody doing nothing. That means that you don’t got no strength, you don’t got no nuts. That’s the truth. He’s standing on this square – four-90 degree angles which equals 360. His phallus is the fist for power because everything comes from the seed of a black man, that’s where life starts. His right hand is the right angle with the Pineal gland on top. The right angle is 90 degrees which means he’s standing straight up and the pineal gland is reflecting on the physical body. His crown is the knowledge.

Me: Man, that’s a brilliant piece right there along with the explanation!

Khaldun: Thank you bro. Yea, that was a challenge with the color, and the way things were just going at that time when I was doing the piece. I put my own language in the background too.

Me: What does it say?

Khaldun: Oh, I just call it my language because it just seems like a language (laughing).

Me: Oh ok (laughing) I thought it was hieroglyphics

Khaldun: I say it’s my own language because when I’m doing art pieces that’s what comes out from my mind. It’s also in the background of some of my other works too like Beautific. That piece is actually done in the likeness of my wife. I got some others in progress coming with the language too.

Me: Wow, I can’t wait to see those! Describe a time when you experienced a creative block, and how did you overcome it?

Khaldun: I don’t think I ever have a creative block man. That comes from me continually doing it though, bro. You can focus so much on what you’re trying to achieve with the results of a specific painting that it’ll make you have a block. Or you may be going through stuff in your life and you don’t have time to actually think about it so you can’t sit down and put it together. Those are the things that give me inspiration, my life and everything around me. When that happens I’m thinking, ‘I’ll put that in a picture.’ I’m not pondering on it or letting it weigh me down. I’m thinking how it’s going to come out in the painting because I don’t want it harboring in my heart.

“I’m not pondering on it or letting it weigh me down. I’m thinking how it’s going to come out in the painting because I don’t want it harboring in my heart.”

Khaldun: I know a lot of people say that they go through creative blocks but I wonder with all this shit going on in the world, where’s the block? It’s in your own mind. With being a writer, here’s how I can tell you you can never get blocked. Every letter in a word has a meaning and every word in the sentence that you compose has a meaning. So, one word itself is a universe of a sentence. It’s a microcosmic aspect of your macrocosm. So you can’t never be blocked when you got over 20 something letters and you got millions of words.

Me: Awww mannn! (laughing) here you go with these knowledge bombs!

Khaldun:  (Laughing)

Me: How has your artwork shaped you as a person?

Khaldun: It’s more introspective than anything because it’s coming from within myself. The canvas enables me to see what’s inside of me. The art reflects who I am. It’s not a go along thing. I’m not trying to say what the mainstream wants me to say, I’m specifically stating what I’m talking about in my paintings. So, when you see that you can say, “that’s a bold picture, well then the person who painted the picture must be bold.” It’s the truth because the person who’s painting that must stand on the truth. You ain’t going to say what I express in my art without going through some things. You got to be a certain type of person to be able to stand up or stand strong through those things or fix those things.

“It’s more introspective than anything because it’s coming from within myself.”

Khaldun: I’m not going to stop painting what I paint. I don’t care about people being offended by what I said because I’ve been lied to all my life and there’s nothing more offensive than that. The whole school of people has lied to me with intentionally deceptive means. Ain’t no need for me holding my tongue (laughing). I have to tell the truth in my work because now is the time to let it resonate. Thus, we’re changing the universe. It’s not just an Earthly thing, this whole universe is moving all the time. It’s realigning in a whole different way that’s creating new energies not only throughout the universe, but within the human himself.

“I have to tell the truth in my work because now is the time to let it resonate.”

Me: I feel you, it’s needed. That’s what causes the shift.

Khaldun: Exactly. It cannot happen unless somebody does it. For me to come out and paint it, you see what I’m saying. I’m enabling you to see what I’m saying.

Me: Yea, brother that’s amazing! What is your most proud achievement so far as an artist?

Khaldun: Anything I do with the children. When I do walk-throughs with the children at my art shows, when I go to the schools and do camps with them, those are my most proud accomplishments. It’s greater than any award or any amount of money. I love that. I get feedback from them. They evaporate on my work to me. It’s astounding because it’s the black genius in the mind of a child. We don’t even know how magnificent they are.

Khaldun: The fact that they’ve never seen or heard this info yet they can elaborate on it means that it’s always been in them. I’m the one that gets to show it to them and share it with them because I know they’re going to grow up to be a giant. Once you put this type of information into their minds for them to grasp, they’re not going to think like you anymore for the rest of their lives. Children have the purest form of knowledge when they come into this world. So, it’s important that I show them my art. I also illustrate books to inspire a child to want to read and paint.  

“The fact that they’ve never seen or heard this info yet they can elaborate on it means that it’s always been in them.”

Me: Excellent! Would you like to share any upcoming projects/exhibitions?

Khaldun: I got an art show coming up on April 15th called Eternal Illumination. I have two new series I’m doing and then I have 8 additional pieces I’m adding to my Cultural Preservation collection. That’s going to be a solo exhibit but I’m going to have catering and Baba Nochi’s going to make me a big old shield and do some live paintings. Also, a sister is going to provide the digital so you can see my videos and my time lapses. I just finished my second book too. I’m going to put some art into this independent film Architect Blues made by some sisters out here in Atlanta. It’s a lot of stuff going on brother.

Me: That’s awesome man! What’s your vision for the future for your artistry?

Khaldun: Salvation to my people, that’s all man. If I’m not uplifting my people and giving them true power and freedom, I don’t care about nothing else. My art freed me and I intend for it to do the same for our people. That’s my personal perspective.

Me: That’s real right there. Much respect to you for that! Khaldun, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to interview with me!

Khaldun: For sure brother, thank you!

To purchase and inquire about Khaldun’s artwork please contact him via his website: https://eternalblackness.com or IG: @eternalblacknessart 

7 thoughts on “Black Visual Artist Chat – Khaldun Oluwa

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