Important South African and International Art

Live Auction, 4 June 2018

Session Two; Contemporary South African Art

Sold for

ZAR 227 600
Lot 214
  • Sam Nhlengethwa; Image IV

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

About this Item

South African 1955-
Image IV
signed, dated '90 and inscribed with the title on the reverse
acrylic and sand mixed with gel on canvas
150 by 200cm excluding frame


This work forms part of a series of four Image abstract paintings. The first in the series is held in the permanent collection at IZIKO: South African National Gallery.

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 bold abstract composition, with its purposeful brushwork and mysterious orchestration of converging graphic forms, predates Nhlengethwa’s adoption of a figurative style and records the influence of his participation in the Thupelo series of artist workshops. Founded in 1985 by artists David Koloane and Bill Ainslie, 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 Nhlengethwa attended every workshop until its demise in 1991. Not without controversy, the Thupelo workshop series is nonetheless associated with a great flourishing of modernist abstraction among urban black artists. Historians have increasingly acknowledged Thupelo’s role in sponsoring personal growth and creative innovation in the face of domineering market forces and political circumstances.2

1. John Peffer (2009). Art and the End of Apartheid, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Page 151.
2. Ibid., page 169, and Marilyn Martin (2016). ‘Abstract Art in South Africa: Then and Now’, in Practices of Abstract Art: Between Anarchism and Appropriation, edited by Isabel Wünsche and Wiebke Gronemeyer, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Pages 225-248.

Sean O’Toole


Kathryn Smith (ed.) (2006). Sam Nhlengethwa, Johannesburg: Goodman Gallery Editions. Another example from the series is illustrated in colour on page 52.

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