The cre­ator Nandipha Mn­tambo

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour Health -

One of our most ex­tra­or­di­nary artists, Nandipha Mn­tambo, 34, has a string of ac­co­lades to her name: the Mel­lon Mey­ers Fel­low­ships at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2003 and 2004, Brett Keb­ble Art Awards Curatorial Fel­low­ship in 2005, WITS/BHP Bil­li­ton Fel­low­ship in 2010, and the Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Award for Vis­ual Art in 2011. That’s not to men­tion 47 group shows, 15 SA solo shows and ex­hi­bi­tions in Wash­ing­ton DC, New York, Frank­furt and Paris.

And yet, iron­i­cally for a cre­ative whose sculp­ture, pho­to­graphs, videos and per­for­mance art are de­scribed as beau­ti­ful, provoca­tive and po­tent, Nandipha didn’t an­tic­i­pate the ex­tent of her own gifts.

“Grow­ing up in Joburg, I en­joyed mak­ing art and my par­ents en­cour­aged cre­ativ­ity, but I didn’t think I was good at it!” Nandipha ex­plains. “And when it came to univer­sity, I couldn’t de­cide be­tween foren­sic sci­ence and fine art.”

A last-minute de­ci­sion led to the Univer­sity of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, where her stel­lar tal­ent was soon so ev­i­dent that Michael Steven­son, one of SA’S lead­ing gal­lerists, took a swift in­ter­est.

Nandipha’s fo­cus on fe­male iden­tity re­flects in mul­ti­me­dia works that in­cor­po­rate resin, cowhide and mesh. “The an­i­mal-hu­man di­vide fas­ci­nates me and I love jux­ta­pos­ing hide with the fe­male form, us­ing my own body as the mould,” she says. Her in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed ‘Tran­sience’ ex­hi­bi­tion, for ex­am­ple, in­cluded oil paint­ings, hide sculp­tures and a video homage to the fe­male bull­fighter Marie Sara.

“It’s so easy to sep­a­rate peo­ple into boxes: black, white, European, African. But my in­ter­est is the spa­ces in be­tween all of that,” she says. “My work al­lows me to ex­plore a global way of the world, a global un­der­stand­ing.”

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