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Sam Nhlengethwa, South Africa

Sam Nhlengethwa is artist-in-residence in preparation of the upcoming major exhibition at Weltkulturen Museum A LABOUR OF LOVE (Opening: 2nd December 2015, co-curator Gabi Ngcobo). For the first time after 28 years, the exhibition is dedicated to a mainfocus Weltkulturen Museum’s collection of contemporary art: 600 works produced by black South African artists under apartheid, which the museum acquired in 1986.

During his month-long residency at the Weltkulturen Labor Sam Nhlengethwa revisits the Weltkulturen Museum's collection of contemporary South African art, which includes his works from the 1980s as well as those by equally internationally renowned artists such as John Muafangejo, Peter Clarke, David Koloane, Azaria Mbatha or Lionel Davis.

Sam Nhlengethwa is one of South Africa’s foremost artists. Born 1955 in Springs South Africa,throughout his career the city has been integral to his practice, and even today he continues to live in eastern Johannesburg, the largest urban metropolis in the country. Nhlengethwa studied art at the Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre and later at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. In 1994, just after he had left his job as a set designer at the South African Broadcasting Company (SABC), he won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award, which marked the beginning of his career as a successful full-time artist. He works in a range of media and is particularly well known for his collages and printmaking.

His mixed media approach to art complements his reflections on everyday urban life and reality. In July 2015 he commented, “Throughout the years, all my pieces have dealt with the movement of people. I enjoy paying homage to people and places through my art.” His work looks into labour issues, with the plight of miners in South Africa often depicted in his practice. Political history, interiors and music pervade much of his art. Nhlengethwa is particularly fond of jazz music and over the years has created a number of works in tribute to iconic jazz musicians. In another series, Nhlengethwa acknowledges contemporary artists and other people, mostly South African, who have paved the way before him.

During this upcoming month Sam Nhlengethwa will keep a “Picture Diary” on Instagram to give insights into his artistic research at the Weltkulturen Labor.