Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014

About

In his third (and final) tribute show Sam Nhlengethwa portrays the imagery of famous artists who have made an impression on him, and whose work places before us questions about progress and the limits of representation.

Tributes are paid to four deceased artists who collided with the mores and values of their times, and whose work continues to inspire others beyond borders of geography or duration: Ephraim Ngatane, Romare Bearden, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Henri Matisse.

A fifth name is added, completing the tribute. The sole living artist is David Goldblatt who, in his photography, has often explored the mining locations of the East Rand, the very region where Nhlengethwa was born, and still lives today.

Each artist’s oeuvre is exhibited in a suggestive milieu – an imagined space void of people where the work-as-tribute is the primary figurative suggestion. Nhlengethwa wants us to see these great works his way. Elsewhere he has spoken of endeavouring to understand the “mental space” of these iconic artists through placing their works in environments composed in his distinctive style.

“In doing these tributes and in doing the interiors I am taken down memory lane to a time when I was a set designer in broadcasting,” Nhlengethwa says. “Because there we were dealing with space – vacated space. So the tributes are just like that empty space, but they get some sense of vibrancy with the hanging paintings of these specific individuals.”

The works are in stark contrast to his 2012 exhibition Conversations, in which Nhlengethwa sought to evoke the architecture and human flow of the South African city streets. Some Final Tributes then is not about urban noise but about silence, creativity and the domestic space. The emptiness of the interiors reflects what Nhlengethwa claims is the sense of loneliness one encounters as an artist working alone while family and friends are out living their lives.

But the tributes are the antidote, and in portraying the work of Bearden, Nhlengethwa is going back to once again experience the spark that ignited his love of collage. “Around 1977 Bill Ainslie (the art teacher) saw my collages as experimentation,” Nhlengethwa says. “He asked me if I knew of Romare Bearden and I said, ‘no’. Then he pulled out this big book of Bearden and for the first time I saw an artist doing collage in such a professional way. When I saw Bearden’s work I found comfort in doing what I thought was nonexistent.

The largest work in his new exhibition is Homage to Romare Bearden, an outsize tapestry produced by the renowned Marguerite Stephens studio. Also on show will be large- scale works in oil and collage on canvas, studies and a series of lithographs.

Sam 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 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. From February to June his solo exhibition Life, Jazz & Lots of Other Things travelled to the Museum of Art at the Savannah College of Art and Design. The show is due to open in Atlanta, Georgia next month.

  • Tribute to David Goldblatt

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to David Goldblatt, 2014

    Colour lithograph / Lithograph

    Image size: 49.5 x 69cm / P: 57 x 76cm / Paper size: 57 x 76.5cm

  • Tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat, 2014

    Colour lithograph

    Image size: 49.5 x 69cm / P: 57 x 76cm / Paper size: 57 x 76.5cm

    Edi...

  • Tribute to Ephraim Ngatane

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Ephraim Ngatane, 2014

    Colour lithograph

    Image size: 49.5 x 69cm / P: 57 x 76cm / Paper size: 57 x 76.5cm

    Edition ...

  • Tribute to Romare Bearden

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Romare Bearden, 2014

    Colour lithograph

    Image size: 49.5 x 69cm / P: 57 x 76cm / Paper size: 57 x 76.5cm

    Edition o...

  • Tribute to Henri Matisse

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Henri Matisse, 2014

    Colour lithograph

    Image size: 49.5 x 69cm / P: 57 x 76cm / Paper size: 57 x 76.5cm

    Edition of...

  • Red Gloves (Homage To Marikana Miners)

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Red Gloves (Homage To Marikana Miners), 2014

    Collage and painting

    140 x 180 cm

  • The Pigeonhole (Homage to Marikana Miners)

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    The Pigeonhole (Homage to Marikana Miners), 2014

    Collage and painting

    140 x 180 cm

  • Train station waiting room I

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Train station waiting room I, 2014

    Photolithograph and Chine colle

    43 x 53cm

    Edition of 10

  • Train station waiting room II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Train station waiting room II, 2014

    Photolithograph and Chine colle

    43 x 53cm

    Edition of 10

  • Underground II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Underground II, 2014

    Photolithograph and Chine colle

    43 x 53cm

    Edition of 10

  • At a Shebeen

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    At a Shebeen, 2014

    Photolithograph and Chine colle

    43 x 43cm

    Edition of 10

  • The Mourners

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    The Mourners , 2014

    Photolithograph and Chine colle

    43 x 43cm

    Edition of 10

  • Behind Bars

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Behind Bars, 2014

    Photolithograph and Chine colle

    43 x 43cm

    Edition of 10

  • Tribute to Ephraim Ngatane

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Ephraim Ngatane, 2014

    Collage, acrylic and oil on canvas

    140 x 180 cm

  • Tribute to Romare Bearden II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Romare Bearden II, 2014

    Collage, acrylic and oil on canvas

    140 x 180 cm

  • A study after Goldblatt

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    A study after Goldblatt, 2014

    Lithograph and Chine colle

    41 x 49 cm

    Edition of 1

  • A study after Basquiat

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    A study after Basquiat , 2014

    Lithograph and Chine colle

    41 x 49 cm

    Edition of 1

  • A study after Matisse

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    A study after Matisse , 2014

    Lithograph and Chine colle

    41 x 49 cm

    Edition of 1

  • A study after Bearden

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    A study after Bearden, 2014

    Lithograph and Chine colle

    41 x 49 cm

    Edition of 1

  • A study after Ngatane

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    A study after Ngatane, 2014

    Lithograph and Chine colle

    41 x 49 cm

    Edition of 1

  • Sunday Veggies

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Sunday Veggies, 2014

    Collage, acrylic and oil on canvas

    44 x 44cm

  • Taking a nap in a compound

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Taking a nap in a compound, 2014

    Collage, oil and acrylic on canvas

    80 x 95 cm

  • Relieved

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Relieved , 2014

    Collage and acrylic on canvas

    54.5 x 79 cm

  • Tribute to Cecil Skotnes

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Cecil Skotnes, 2008-11

    Ten colour lithograph

    49.5 x 69 cm

    Edition of 50

  • Tribute to David Goldblatt

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to David Goldblatt, 2014

    Collage and acrylic oil on canvas

    180 x 140.5cm

  • Tribute to Henri Matisse

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Henri Matisse, 2014

    Collage and acrylic oil on canvas

    180 x 140.5cm

  • Tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat II

    Sam Nhlengethwa

    Tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat II, 2014

    Collage and acrylic oil on canvas

    180 x 140.5cm

  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Sam Nhlengethwa / Some Final Tributes / 2014]