Live Auction, 20 May 2019

Sold for

R 227 600
Lot 275
Sam Nhlengethwa; Abstract with Yellow Triangle

Lot Estimate
R 200 000 - 300 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium and VAT
R 227 600

About this Item

South African 1955-
Abstract with Yellow Triangle
mixed media on canvas
136 by 223cm excluding frame


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

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