Sam Nhlengethwa / Conversations / 2012

About

Conversations is an exhibition of new work by Sam Nhlengethwa that portrays the exuberance of the city of Johannesburg and its people.

To Nhlengethwa, this show is an instinctive thematic progression from his earlier work and he describes it as a review of his previous subjects in the context of conversation. Nhlengethwa uses the large-scale cityscape, Cyclists Mural, as the core vision for the show. It was the first piece in the series that he worked on and it took him more than three months to complete. The elevated view eastwards of the city, from his apartment in Newtown, inspired the piece. First, he began mapping out the architecture of the city and then, as he peopled the scene, the theme for Conversations, he says, “began to flow”.

This, as well as a range of new work, focuses on conversation as a basic human interaction in a selection of social contexts: ebullient schoolgirls on a bustling city street, a couple intimately sharing an umbrella, a group of men smoking together after dark. Several of the pieces depict conversations between young men, some located at an initiation school, wrapped in their characteristic grey blankets. These are images of ritualistic communion, charged with anxious anticipation. In the context of conversation, the ceremonial and the everyday comfortably hang alongside each other.

In Nhlengethwa’s last solo show at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, Kind of Blue (2010), he paid exclusive homage to the landmark Miles Davis album of the same title. Consequently, his work was constrained in terms of subject matter, location and the use of a subdued colour palette. In contrast, Conversations has allowed him complete chromatic freedom. The boisterous use of colour animates the works and lends a levity to the exchanges that they depict.

There is a continued focus on interiors in this show, with the distinction that the stark emptiness of his former interiors has now been populated. Whereas, in the past, Nhlengethwa did not want to “disturb the quietness of the interiors”, he has ushered people into these rooms and allowed their voices to fill the space. As part of his representation of these communal spaces, Nhlengethwa has also included several pieces inspired by a meal shared at his parents’ home, during which he noticed the shadows of his family talking, reflected on the wall.

The titles of the works came to Nhlengethwa as snippets of overheard conversations; some topical, some trivial. He has “always been inspired by people and their surroundings” and these images represent the vitality and humour of the people of Johannesburg. According to Nhlengethwa, to read the titles is to hear the conversations and to think, “This is us”.

The show is comprised of a works in a variety of media including etchings, lithographs, lino prints, tapestries and Nhlengethwa’s hallmark collage, oil and acrylic works.

Nhlengethwa was born in the mining community of Payneville Springs in 1955 and grew up in Ratanda location in Heidelberg, east of Johannesburg. He completed a two-year Fine Art Diploma at the Rorkes Drift Art Centre in the late 1970s. While he exhibited extensively both locally and abroad during the 1980s and ’90s, Nhlengethwa’s travelling solo show South Africa, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 1993 established him at the vanguard of critical consciousness in South Africa and he went on to win the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1994. His work has been included in key exhibitions such as Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and major publications such as Phaidon’s The 20th Century Art Book. He has had several solo shows in South Africa and abroad and has recently exhibited in the 12th International Cairo Biennale (2010) and in (Re)constructions: Contemporary Art from South Africa at Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi (2011) in Brazil. He has been a resident of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in Newtown, Johannesburg since the 1990s.

  • Nightshift

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Nightshift, 2012

    Oil on Canvas

    180x240cm

  • Abakhwetha I

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Abakhwetha I, 2012

    Mixed media on paper

    98.5 x 65 cm

  • Hawu...only R5.00

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Hawu...only R5.00, 2012

    Mixed media on paper

    100 x 70 cm

  • BEE Caucus

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    BEE Caucus, 2012

    Oil on canvas

    90 x 120 cm

  • Abakhwetha II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Abakhwetha II, 2012

    Oil on canvas

    Diptych, 75 x 90 cm (each)

  • Blue Chairs

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Blue Chairs, 2012

    Oil on canvas

    90 x 120 cm

  • Cyclists Mural

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Cyclists Mural, 2012

    Oil and mixed media on canvas

    Triptych, 160 x 390 cm

  • Table for Two

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Table for Two, 2012

    Oil on canvas

    140 x 180 cm

  • Did you call her?

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Did you call her?, 2012

    Oil on canvas

    140 x 180 cm

  • Senegalese

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Senegalese, 2012

    Mixed media on canvas

    90 x 120 cm

    Available

  • Fresh Vegies

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Fresh Vegies, 2012

    Mixed media on canvas

    120 x 90 cm

  • Night Tsotsis I

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Night Tsotsis I, 2012

    Mixed media on canvas

    98.5 x 65 cm

  • Night Tsotsis II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Night Tsotsis II, 2012

    Mixed media on canvas

    98.5 x 65 cm

  • Late Night Fun

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Late Night Fun, 2012

    Mixed media on plywood

    35 x 33 cm

  • Magents II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Magents II, 2012

    Mixed media on plywood

    35 x 33 cm

  • Magents I

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Magents I, 2012

    Mixed media on plywood

    35 x 33 cm

  • Ntate Moruti

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Ntate Moruti, 2012

    Mixed media on plywood

    35 x 33 cm

  • Back Seat in a Taxi

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Back Seat in a Taxi, 2012

    Mixed media on plywood

    35 x 33 cm

  • What About AU?

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    What About AU?, 2012

    Lithograph

    50 x 53 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Then Take the First Solo

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Then Take the First Solo, 2012

    Lithograph

    50 x 53 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Please Lead Our Shift

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Please Lead Our Shift, 2012

    Lithograph

    50 x 53 cm

    Edition of 35

    Available

  • Then Who Did It?

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Then Who Did It?, 2012

    Lithograph

    50 x 53cm

    Edition of 35

    Available

  • Precisely My Point

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Precisely My Point , 2012

    Lithograph

    50 x 53 cm

    Edition of 35

    Available

  • Do we all agree

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Do we all agree, 2012

    Linocut

    57 x 76cm

    Edition of 20

    Available

  • Ready to blast? (Mine worker)

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Ready to blast? (Mine worker), 2012

    Linocut

    57 x 76cm

    Edition of 20

    Available

  • Backstage

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Backstage, 2011

    Woven Mohair tapestry

    220 x 300 cm

    Edition of 2

  • The Nightshift

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    The Nightshift, 2011

    Woven mohair tapestry

    243 x 340 cm

    Edition of 3

  • Gautrain Station

    Gautrain Station, 2012

    Woven Mohair tapestry

    192 x 157 cm

    Edition of 3

    Available

  • ...On an Orange Wall

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    ...On an Orange Wall, 2012

    Acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper

    50 x 70 cm

    Available

  • ... On a Red Wall under a sign

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    ... On a Red Wall under a sign, 2012

    Acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper

    50 x 70 cm

    Available

  • ... On a Grey Wall

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    ... On a Grey Wall, 2012

    Acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper

    50 x 70 cm

    Available

  • ...On the Red Brick Wall

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    ...On the Red Brick Wall, 2012

    Acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper

    50 x 70 cm

    Available

  • ... Against the Bricks and Tar

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    ... Against the Bricks and Tar, 2012

    Acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper

    70 x 50 cm

    Available

  • ... Against a Midnight Blue Sky

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    ... Against a Midnight Blue Sky, 2012

    Acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper

    50x 70 cm

    Available

  • Marikana Strike is worrying

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Marikana Strike is worrying, 2012

    Hardground etching, spitbite, aquatint, drypoint & on gampi chine colle

    36 x 49 cm

    Edition...

  • Aha! Mangaung is coming

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Aha! Mangaung is coming, 2012

    Hardground Etching, spitbite, aquatint, drypoint & chine colle

    36 x 49 cm

    Edition of 25

  •  Men in black

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Men in black, 2012

    Linocut

    42 x 58cm

    Edition of 20

    Available

  • The exhibition launch

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    The exhibition launch, 2012

    Linocut

    77 x 70cm

    Edition of 20

    Available

  • Ready to go (with umbrellas)

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Ready to go (with umbrellas), 2012

    Linocut

    57 x 76 cm

    Edition of 20

    Available

  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Conversations / 2012]