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by Nicholas Hlobo

Artist feature: Nicholas Hlobo

by Nicholas Hlobo
Nicholas Hlobo was born in Cape Town in 1975, and has a B Tech degree from Wits (2002); he lives in Johannesburg. Hlobo has exhibited in many countries and galleries across the globe including the Galleria Extraspazio in Rome, the Savannah College of Art Design in the USA, the Boston ICA, and at the Tate Modern in London, to name a few. He was the winner of the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts 2006, and the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2009 exhibited at the Michael Stevenson gallery, and in 2010 he was one of 21 artists shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize The Future Generation Art Prize established by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation is a worldwide contemporary art prize to discover, recognize and give long-term support to a future generation of artists.

Hlobo has built up a distinctive body of work that engages the viewer in conversations about sexual identity, masculinity and ethnicity. To these ends he harnesses the associative potential of materials such as rubber inner tubes, ribbon, soap, silicon and found objects, and makes use of his own body in performance.

Hlobo’s first solo exhibition was at the Michael Stevenson gallery in 2006 and was entitled Izele meaning “someone or something has given birth“. But, Hlobo says, “it has a double meaning. It could mean, for example, when you go to a tap and fill up a jug – Izele ijug, is the jug full? Zalisa ijug ngamanzi, fill the jug with water. It means filling something, or adding to something.” Birth, conception and sex are concepts that recurred throughout his show.

The latest news is that Nicholas is the Rolex Visual Arts Protege for 2010/11, working with Anish KapoorBorn in Bombay, he is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation, having lived and worked in London since the early 70’s – as his mentor. A major survey exhibition of Hlobo’s work is currently on at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway, from 4 March to 29 May 2011.

We wish this highly successful, locally based talent all the best for the future, but something tells me that he doesn’t need much luck.

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