Live Auction, 20 May 2019
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About this Item
Sam Nhlengethwa is best known for his figure-based paintings and collage works exploring themes of social and art history, jazz music and domestic life. This mature body of work was preceded by his enraptured experimentation with abstract painting in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Nhlengethwa’s interest in abstraction was influenced by his participation in the Thupelo series of artist workshops organised by artists David Koloane and Bill Ainslie. Established in 1985, the objective of the annual, two-week workshop in Johannesburg was, in the words of Koloane, “to inspire artists to research and experiment [with] medium and technique so that they are able to expand their creative vocabulary.”1 Not without controversy, the Thupelo workshop series is nonetheless associated with sponsoring personal growth and creative innovation among urban black artists in the face of domineering market forces and political circumstances. Nhlengethwa attended every workshop until its demise in 1991. His abstract compositions from this period are characterised by their energetic but precise mark-making and preference for a low-key colour palette that he sometimes juxtaposed with brightly coloured elemental shapes, notably triangles.
1. John Peffer (2009) Art and the End of Apartheid, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Page 151.Sean O’Toole