Hlobo’s art as­cends to a new door­way

‘Isango’ ex­hi­bi­tion reaf­firms ge­nius

Sowetan - - Timeout Art / Opinion - By Pa­tience Bam­balele

In­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed fine artist Ni­cholas Hlobo shows off his artis­tic abun­dance in his lat­est solo ex­hi­bi­tion Isango (gate­way), which is on at the Stevenson Gallery in Braam­fontein, Jo­han­nes­burg, un­til Jan­uary next year.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is made up of sculp­tures, paint­ings and in­stal­la­tions. The new body of work comes af­ter his fa­mous piece, Sewing Saw.

His works re­volve around is­sues of gen­der, race, eth­nic­ity, power, sex­ual iden­tity and so­ci­etal con­flict.

With Isango, the Cape Town-born artist proves that he is a mas­ter of mys­tery art.

Isango in­cor­po­rates re­li­gious para­pher­na­lia, plumb­ing im­ple­ments, can­dle­hold­ers, wind in­stru­ments and door han­dles among var­i­ous ob­jects that act as me­di­a­tors be­tween the spir­i­tual, ele­men­tal and so­matic.

Isango fea­tures works like Iqun­jelwe, Wavuthu­l­ula, Yakhon­gozela, Iqhawe Eli­ge­nagama, Mphep­hethe uthe cwaka and Is­inqe.

It fea­tures cop­per sculp­tures and his trade­mark stitched can­vases that are cut and sewed with rib­bon and pieces of leather.

Hlobo de­scribes his works as frayed hula-hoops and im­per­fect crowns.

“I’m step­ping through the door and I’m float­ing in a most pe­cu­liar way… per­haps we’ve as­cended to this door­way. Per­haps now I’m about to move, I’m about to alight.”

He says the work is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the en­ergy lines that he ex­plores in flat sur­faces.

“I’m still stitch­ing but the ma­te­rial I’m us­ing is an al­loy which you heat, so I’m stitch­ing with metal rather than stitch­ing with rib­bon.”

Hlobo is one of the se­ri­ous ab­stract painters in South Africa. He has ex­hib­ited his works both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

His works have been shown at art in­sti­tu­tions such as the Smithsonian Na­tional Mu­seum of African Art in Washington DC.

For his unique work, Hlobo was ac­knowl­edged with many awards. He was the first re­cip­i­ent of the Villa Ex­tra­or­di­nary Award for Sculp­ture in 2016.

In 2006 he re­ceived the Toll­man Award.

He was named the Stan­dard Bank Young Artist for Vis­ual Art 2009, and was the Rolex Vis­ual Arts Pro­tégé for 20102011.

Hlobo has a B-Tech de­gree from Wits Tech­nikon.

Art­work ‘Iqun­jelwe’ from Ni­cholas Hlobo’s ex­hi­bi­tion.

‘Is­inqe’ by Ni­cholas Hlobo.

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