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Nicholas Hlobo

Nicholas Hlobo

Nicholas Hlobo

Hermaphrodite 2002
rubber inner tube, carpet, wire, tassles
85 x 93cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Igqirha lendlela 2005
leather jacket, rubber inner tube,
ribbon, blouse
61 x 58 x 67cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Igqirha lendlela 2005

Nicholas Hlobo

Igqirha lendlela 2006
Performance as part of the exhibition
Olvida Quien Soy - Erase me from who I am
Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Photo courtesy of CAAM

Nicholas Hlobo

Ingenile 2004
mixed media
140 x 190cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Intente 2006
rubber inner tube, ribbon, fabric
200 x 150 x 150cm approx
Photo courtesy of Michael Stevenson

Nicholas Hlobo

Umtya nethunga 2005
rubber inner tube, ribbon,
chain, pipe, steel rope
175 x 270 x 220cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Umtya nethunga 2005

Nicholas Hlobo

Umtya nethunga and Vanity
Installation view, In the making: materials and process
Michael Stevenson, August 2005

Nicholas Hlobo

Untitled # 2002
mixed media
85 x 92' 185cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Untitled #2 2002
palm leaves, rug
120 x 190cm approx

Nicholas Hlobo

Untitled 2001
Installation view
B Tech third year exhibition
Museum Africa, Johannesburg

Nicholas Hlobo

Vanity 2005
vanity case, rubber inner tube,
eyelets, ribbon, soap
29 x 31 x 170cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Sit-on 2001
ceramic, metal
90 x 50 x 50cm

Nicholas Hlobo

Sit-on or stand up
and be counted 2001


Nicholas Hlobo
by Sue Williamson (June, 2006)

For a young artist who graduated only in 2002 and has yet to have his first solo show, Tollman Award winner Nicholas Hlobo has produced an astonishing body of powerfully realized work in a wide variety of materials.

Different as they may look as one scans down a page of images, wide ranging as his sources may be, Hlobo's works and performances are distinguished by an unusual clarity of vision and sensitivity to materials. Addressing issues of sexual identity, challenging stereotypes, sometimes wildly exuberant, sometimes cool and reflective, each piece has been fully resolved in its own way.

Hlobo also has the rare ability to write lucidly and insightfully about his process and artmaking.


Igqirha Lendlela is both sculpture and performance, and is intended by the artist to explore the idea of freedom in South Africa.

Writes Hlobo on the piece:'The title is derived from the Xhosa choral song Igqirha lendlela nguqongqothwane.' This means that the dung beetle is the doctor of the road. The dung beetles are amazing with their ability to roll dung using their hind legs - they'd then make their way to their nests rolling the dung using backward movement.

'To me, this says a lot about the courage and confidence they have. They are not intimidated by having to move things larger than their bodies. And, this movement says nothing about having backward thinking. Instead it presents a lot of intelligence and knowing where they come from. The song is used to refer to those who are wise and educated [in various ways] and says that they are the ones who are enlightened and know the way forward.

'In this performance the song or title of the song is used as a metaphor to South Africa, its culture(s), the future and the past. The work attempts to comment on the heavy past that South Africans have to bear with. This is suggested by altering garments [jackets] in such a way that they have a big unusual hump that grows or have grown at the back.

'The hump will be added to the garments so that it looks as though it is part of the design and at the same time foreign. The altered jackets and the performance make a conversation on the heavy baggage we carry as South Africans. What this says is that South Africans have the strength to move forward with ease despite how heavy our past may seem.'

'The character hopes to behave like any normal person would. He'd visit exhibitions, go to restaurants, window shop, go to libraries, meet people, etc.

'In this jacket I used rubber from inner tyre tubes because of its relation to other works I made. I stitched the pieces together using red ribbon. The ribbon found its way into becoming a thread because of its smooth texture and red colour. The colour also worked as the lining of the jacket is red. As we all know, red is such a dramatic colour'.

Asked what led to a decision to make a career in art, Hlobo replied 'It started when I was still young in primary school. We never had art as a subject and I'd be asked to illustrate for my class because I liked drawing.

'In 1998 I decide to study art so that I could work in the film industry. During my studies at Technikon Witwatersrand I realised that as an artist I could still make a good contribution in the South African culture without having to make films and this is where I am now.'


'Through my works I attempt to create conversations that explore certain issues within my culture as a South African. The conversations become a way of questioning people's perceptions around issues of masculinity, gender, race and ethnicity.'


Hlobo is the 2006 winner of the Tollman Award which carries prize money of R100 000. Donated by the Tollman family, the award is given each year to an exceptionally promising young artist.

Says Hlobo, 'Winning the Tollman Award has been the most significant moment in my career. It made me realise the importance of my being an artist in this country - suddenly someone celebrated my contribution into the South African culture.'


Earlier this year, Hlobo participated in 'Olvida Quien Soy - Erase me from who I am', at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas, which is where he exhibited and performed Igqirha Lendlela, amongst other works.


Hlobo first began to come to public notice when he was selected by curator Tumelo Mosaka as one of his picks for 10 Years 100 Artists (Bell Roberts Publishing/Struik 2004), and appeared on the Sophie Perryer curated show at Michael Stevenson Contemporary, 'In the Making' (2005).


The artist's first solo show is planned for Michael Stevenson Contemporary in August. Intente is one of the new works to be exhibited.

Writing about this show, Hlobo says that the works on this exhibition will look at, among other things, 'comfort, shelter, protection, beauty, cleanliness, sacred space, pleasure and fantasy'. He describes elements of the show as follows:

'We will look at military camps in this country, which signify protection, destruction and display of power. When in trouble soldiers would drop their tents to send a signal to their friends alerting them of an invasion by the enemy.

'This is where the work Intente plays its part. It is inspired by the idea of a tent as something that gives shelter and is also a symbol of power and masculinity. Young Xhosa men at times refer to someone having an erection as umis' iintente, meaning 'he's got his tents up'. The thought of something pushing from below with great pressure can be related to the struggle for equal rights by homosexual men and their female counterparts.

And after that?

'I'll be busy working on the Hotel Room Project at Spier, Stellenbosch. I am among a group of about ten artists that were selected to come up with concepts/designs that would give the hotel rooms a non-conventional creative feel.'



Born Cape Town, 1975. Lives and works in Johannesburg.


2002 B Tech: Fine Arts, Technikon Witwatersrand
1998 Printmaking apprenticeship, Artist Proof Studio, Newtown

Upcoming solo exhibition

2006 Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (16 August - 16 September)

Selected group exhibitions and performances

2006 Women's March commemorative exhibition, Iziko South African National
Gallery (June - September)
2006 Olvida Quien Soy - Erase me from who I am, Centro Atlantico de Arte
Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
2006 Performance at Vansa conference, Cape Town
2005 Performance at Sessions Ikapa, Cape Town
2005 South African art 1848 - now, Michael Stevenson,Cape Town
2005 Synergy, Iziko Old Town House Museum, Cape Town
2005 Inventors, makers and movers, Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam
2005 In the making: materials and process, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town
2005 Take me to the river, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
2005 Subject to change, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
2005 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn
2005 A Decade of Democracy: Witnessing South Africa, Dallas, Texas,
and KZNSA Gallery, Durban
2005 10 Years 100 Artists, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town
2004 Jo'burg Art City, Johannesburg Development Agency, Johannesburg
2004 Intercession, Johannesburg Art Gallery
2004 Mine(d) Fields, Stadtgalerie, Bern, Switzerland
2004 A Decade of Democracy: Witnessing South Africa,
Center for African American Artists, Boston, Massachusetts
2004 Show Us What You're Made Of II, The Premises Gallery, Johannesburg
2003 Makeshift, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
2003 18th Absa L'Atelier Exhibition, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg
2002 Jo'burg Art City, The Fort, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
2002 17th Absa L'Atelier Exhibition, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg
2000 Arts Alive, Electric Workshop, Johannesburg
2000 Pride Exhibition, The Zone at Rosebank and Windybrow Theatre, Johannesburg
1998 Artist Proof Studio Exhibition, Cape Town


2006 Tollman Award for Visual Art 2006


2005 Three-month residency at Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam

Public collections

Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town;
University of South Africa (Unisa), Pretoria


Sanell Aggenbach
(Sept 2005)

Alan Alborough
(July 2000)

Jane Alexander
(July 1999)

Siemon Allen
(June 2001)

Bridget Baker
(March 2006)

Willie Bester
(Aug 1999)

Ralph Borland
(Jan 2006)

Willem Boshoff
(Aug 2001)

Conrad Botes
(Dec 2001)

Andries Botha
(April 2000)

Wim Botha
(April 2003)

Kevin Brand
(June 1998)

Candice Breitz
(Oct 1998)

Lisa Brice
(Jan 1999)

Jean Brundrit
(March 2004)

Angela Buckland
(Mar 2003)

Pitso Chinzima
(Oct 2001)

Marco Cianfanelli
(Aug 2002)

Julia Rosa Clark
(July 2005)

Peter Clarke
(Sept 2003)

Steven Cohen
(May 1998)

Keith Deitrich
(July 2004)

Paul Edmunds
(Feb 2004)

Leora Farber
(May 2002)

Bronwen Findlay
(April 2002)

Tracy Lindner Gander
(April 2004)

Kendell Geers
(June 2002)

Linda Givon
(Dec 1999)

David Goldblatt
(Dec 2002)

Thembinkosi Goniwe
(Oct 2002)

Brad Hammond
(Jan 2001)

Randolph Hartzenberg
(Aug 1998)

Kay Hassan
(Oct 2000)

Matthew Hindley
(Sept 2004)

Stephen Hobbs
(Dec 1998)

Robert Hodgins
(June 2000)

Pieter Hugo
(April 2006)

William Kentridge
(May 1999)

Isaac Khanyile
(Nov 2001)

David Koloane
(July 2003)

Dorothee Kreutzfeld
(Jan 2000)

Terry Kurgan
(Aug 2000)

Moshekwa Langa
(Feb 1999)

Chris Ledochowski
(June 2003)

Kim Lieberman
(May 2003)

Mandla Mabila
(Aug 2001)

Churchill Madikida
(May 2004)

Veronique Malherbe
(June 1999)

Mustafa Maluka
(July 1998)

Thando Mama
(June 2004)

Senzeni Marasela
(Feb 2000)

Colbert Mashile
(May 2006)

Brent Meistre
(May 2005)

Santu Mofokeng
(July 2002)

Zwelethu Mthethwa
(April 1999)

Samson Mudzunga
(Oct 2004)

Thomas Mulcaire
(April 2001)

Brett Murray
(Sept 1998)

Hylton Nel
(Feb 2002)

Sam Nhlengethwa
(Oct 2003)

Walter Oltmann
(July 2001)

Jay Pather
(Dec 2004)

Malcolm Payne
(Nov 2002)

Tracy Payne
(March 1998)

Peet Pienaar
(Dec 2000)

Jo Ractliffe
(Mar 1999)

Robin Rhode
(Nov 1999)

Colin Richards
(Aug 2003)

Tracey Rose
(March 2001)

Claudette Schreuders
(Sept 2000)

Berni Searle
(May 2000)

Berni Searle
(Jan 2003)

Usha Seejarim
(May 2001)

Penny Siopis
(Sept 1999)

Kathryn Smith
(Dec 2003)

Dave Southwood
(March 2002)

Doreen Southwood
(Sept 2002)

Nathaniel Stern
(Feb 20006)

Greg Streak
(Feb 2001)

Guy Tillim
(Jan 2005)

Clive van den Berg
(Nov 1998)

Hentie van der Merwe
(Mar 2000)

Strijdom van der Merwe
(Jan 2002)

Storm Janse van Rensburg
(June 2005)

Minnette Vári
(Feb 1998)

Diane Victor
(Feb 2003)

Vuyile Voyiya
(Aug 2005)

Jeremy Wafer
(Nov 2000)

James Webb
(Aug 2004)

Sue Williamson
(Nov 2003)

Ed Young
(Nov 2005)