Uppsala Art Museum proudly present for the first time in Sweden, one of South Africa’s leading artists Nicholas Hlobo (b. 1975) from Johannesburg. Site specific amorphous sculptures and textile drawings are the artist signatures. Hlobo has a particular flair for materials that appeal to bodily senses. As performance artist the animated sculptures give a strong sensation of bodily presence. Expressions in fashion and folklore handicraft merge with the politics of black skin. Rubber inner tubes meet light fabrics and satin in a nonverbal queering of traditional spheres. Of particular interest to the artist is the symbolic impact of the stitch as binding together and penetrating a surface. Hlobo has consciously chosen embroidery as a way to draw on paper or canvas. The thread and stitch map and measure, while at the same time expressing a visceral world joined with earthly textures and digital nerve fibres.
Zawelela ngale will include earlier artworks of importance combined with newly produced sculptures for the gallery space at Uppsala Art Museum, in the old Gustav Vasa castle. Nicholas Hlobo would translate the isiXhosa phrase Zawelela ngale as “They have crossed to the other side” and by this he describes the performative act of transgressing, crossing a border, or things that have transcended onto another state. Zawelela ngale could be understood as the need to acknowledge changes and shifts in identities and the multifaceted nature of humans.
Nicholas Hlobo´s long career of international projects and solo shows includes those at Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design in Oslo (2011), Locust Projects in Miami (2013), and Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague (2016). He is represented in collections including Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, SFMOMA, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, amongst others. In 2011 Hlobo showed newly commissioned work on ILLUMInations, the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. He was also included in the biennales in Liverpool, 2010 and Sydney, 2012 and the Guangzhou Triennial, 2008. Hlobo was the first recipient of the Villa Extraordinary Award for Sculpture in 2016. He was the Tollman Award winner 2006, the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2009, and the Rolex Visual Arts Protégé for 2010/11, working with Anish Kapoor as his mentor. He is represented by Lehmann Maupin in New York and Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Curator: Rebecka Wigh Abrahamsson, Uppsala Art Museum.
Uppsala Art Museum is very grateful to the support by collectors, such as Ekard collection, Ki Collections, Norlinda and José Lima Collection and the generous collaboration with Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and the artist himself.