Medium: Six colour photo-lithograph
Paper size: 19.25" x 14.75"
Image size: 7.75" x 11"
Edition size: 25
GLIMPSES OF THE 50s & 60s
"The title of this series is 'Glimpses of the Fifties and Sixties". I have chosen to work in the style to which I have become accustomed (collage) and to also explore my printing via the photogravure process. I think one of the reasons I like this process is that it has an element of collage in it, but the process is more physically involved and delicate. It entails digitising an initial collage and working through at least five plates before even considering the trial print to be used for the series.
I sourced material from the Drum magazine archives and I also looked through my own family albums. The use of my own archive was important because I wanted to reflect an intimacy and a familiarity that would make the images accessible. Looking through the albums I reminisced about growing up in my grandmother's house and how I always found the dining room with the wedding photograph so intriguing.
I also recalled enjoying a softball match in Westonaria (a small mining community on the West Rand) amidst the many dompas and curfew laws. Today these images have now been revived in the music videos of Mafikizolo and the 'Stoned Cherry' fashion label. I think I'm lucky in the sense that I have used art as an outlet for the frustrations I encountered during this time. My visual expression through painting was therapeutic and has now been transformed into what I believe to be a historical retrospective".
Sam Nhlengethwa is unquestionably a city artist born and bred; he still lives in an urban centre on the East Rand. It is the city, with its bustling life, that excites and interests him and around which his identity as person and artist resides and resonates. Typical is a work in the collection entitled The party (plate 291); it deals with everyday reality, not fantasy, and importantly, the medium is collage.
Nhlengethwa was neither the first nor only artist in South Africa to use collage but it is the way that he uses the hard-edge cut shapes of ready-made images that is different and individual. Carefully selected reproductions from magazines are cut out and cut up and then juxtaposed to make new images, usually people or faces. Often these newly-constructed forms are combined with other media. What matters to Nhlengethwa is the content of the image and bits of paper were not often used as fillers or backgrounds.
During the last few years Nhlengethwa has started using the photogravure process, because, among other features, he feels ‘it has an element of collage in it … it entails digitalising an initial collage’.
By the time he started working with photogravure and lithographs Nhlengethwa had a well-established iconography but the new medium created a space for the urban artist to make multiples and develop series on selected themes. Among these are the works on political history (Glimpses of the Fifties and Sixties).
Nhlengethwa been shown as wide as UM Michigan, Atlanta, New York, Paris, Venice, Brazil, Cairo, Davos, Bochum, Tokyo, Cuba, Bolzano, Chicago, Cologne, Mauritius, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Nantes, Cameroon, London, Senegal.
Sam Nhlengethwa / Mbombela
Sam Nhlengethwa is one of South Africa's foremost artists. Born in 1955, he studied at Rorke's Drift and the Johannesburg Art Foundation. He was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year award in 1994, the year South Africa held its first democratic elections and freedom was won for all its people.
He has successfully exhibited all over the world from Senegal to New York and Cologne. His work is largely figurative and he explores themes that are close to his heart such as the plight of mineworkers, jazz and the physical space of contemporary Africa.
In his prints and paintings, Sam Nhlengethwa uses overlays of techniques such as collage painting, drawing and photography. His fine sense of colour and form lend an abstract quality to his work.
He has been included in many contemporary South African art publications and his work can be found in leading South African and International collections.