Coded Inscriptions: Blessing Ngobeni's "Chaotic Pleasure'

July 6, 2020 - Review by Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti | Artthrob

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines Stockholm Syndrome as ‘the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with their captor.’ It is hard to make sense of the multiple problems we face in this fast-moving world, so we soldier on like we are addicted to the disorder. Blessing Ngobeni’s ‘Chaotic Pleasure’ invites us to pause and reflect on the complex issues of power and abuse. It is also an ideal critical response to the confusing, dramatic, and uncertain times we are caught up in. The exhibition includes large scale mixed media paintings, sculpture and drawings in the artist’s trademark animated form. The artist also incorporates fascinating coded inscriptions.  The work is featured in the inaugural virtual National Arts Festival (vNAF), itself a response to the outbreak of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Ngobeni is the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art for 2020.

The work in this exhibition addresses many issues traversing from the intensely personal – A Thing Of The Past Haunts I-VI  finds Ngobeni reflecting on a troubled past in the countryside, and in the urban jungle that is Johannesburg – to the pressing forces of the everyday. Key national problems like the contentious land ownership issue, tribalism, and corruption that derails progress are not spared in this conceptually rich, raw, and uncompromising show. Ngobeni is a proud African who wants to see a united continent moving forward, embracing progress. This is seen through his damning critique of xenophobia and the genocides of the past. In Shopping For Black Skin I & II, the artist also problematizes conflicts fueled by the outside world bent on stealing the continent’s resources amidst the chaos they create in cahoots with greedy African puppet leaders.


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Tanya Poole featured on 10 Artworks From Artnet’s Gallery Network That Our Experts Are Loving This Week

May 14, 2020 - artnet Gallery Network | artnet

Every week, we explore the thousands of galleries on the Artnet Gallery Network to highlight the spaces and artworks inspiring us right now. Take a look at our latest picks.


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New oil paintings by Philip Barlow that look like 'bokeh' effect photographs of New York

April 28, 2020 - Katy Cowan | Creative Boom

We've long admired the work of Philip Barlow, the South African artist who tricks us with his incredible oil paintings that look like "bokeh" effect photographs. You know, when the lens is out-of-focus to deliberately create appealing blurred lights.

His latest series, which is due to go on show at Galerie LeRoyer in Montréal this summer, continues to look at some of our favourite street scenes from cities around the world, New York City being a running theme.



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CHANT: Faith XLVII’s public practice

April 22, 2020 - Dave Mann | MAVERICK LIFE ART

If you have passed through some of Johannesburg’s more bustling reaches recently, you may have spotted a statement, or an invitation, written on the walls in tall, block letters: ‘CHANT. CHANT. CHANT’.

The words were painted by interdisciplinary artist Faith XLVII on one of her recent trips to the city, and form part of a broader body of work the artist is moving towards – one that seeks to both highlight the daily din of the contemporary world, and carve out pockets of quiet reflexivity among it all.


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6 rising art stars to catch in Miami this week

December 3, 2019 - Andrew Sessa | New York Post

Julian Navarro has a keen eye for spotting talent. As director of Art Miami — celebrating its 30th anniversary this week — as well as its sister shows Context in Miami and New York, the curator and cultural entrepreneur has his finger on the pulse of all that’s new and notable. He sees Miami’s Art Week as “a good platform to see fresh work” and loves that “a lot of artists spend all year producing exciting pieces” for it. Here, he shares with Alexa his picks for on-the-rise names to be on the lookout for.

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Blessing Ngobeni wins Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Arts

November 20, 2019

Congratulations to Blessing Ngobeni for winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Arts in 2020. 

This year marks 36 years of Standard Bank’s sponsorship of the SBYAA and sees each winning young artist receiving a cash incentive, as well as a commission to premiere a new work or exhibit on the Main Programme of the 46th National Arts Festival, taking place in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) from 25 June to 5 July 2020. 


Moments, Movement and Memory: in Conversation with Liza Grobler

October 31, 2019 - Misha Krynauw | ARTTHROB

Stepping up towards Liza Grobler’s studio, my eyes roam quickly up and over my surroundings as I ascend, the morning sun already making its way to the top of the stairwell where she’s smiling at me from, bursts of colour peaking at me through the frame of her glasses. I made a mental note of the high ceilings as I set up my notebook and my phone to record. Her studio is spacious, and busy. There are twists of fabric knotted together, hanging here and there, and the wooden floors are marked with splashes of paint and painter’s footfalls.

Liza describes the process of bringing ‘A Rainbow in my Pocket’ – her new exhibition at Everard Read –  as somewhat back-to-front. Neither the concept nor the name came first, she insists, but rather an emphasis on what lays at the nexus of creativity; the actual undertaking. “My work is more driven by process, and action, and mark-making,” she explains with rolling, wide hand gestures; the same way she likes to paint, it turns out, “A lot of my other work is site-specific. It always has a performative component, but usually in a more understated way.” Evidence of Liza’s mark-making stretches from A Portal Into Monet – Greenpoint Park (Diptych) yet in slower circles than it does in Broadway Bellies, both of which are particularly captivating.




“Art freed me from imprisonment.” An unexpected brush with destiny

September 6, 2019 - Beautiful News


This artist freed himself from imprisonment in the most unexpected way.

Was it luck, or destiny? Blessing Ngobeni could never have predicted his path to becoming a revered artist. Raised in an abusive household, Ngobeni ran away as a child and made it to Alexandra, where he joined the wrong crowd. At the age of 15, he was arrested for robbery and spent nearly six years in prison. It could have been rock bottom. Yet it was here that Ngobeni discovered his talents. Out of boredom, he started sketching fellow inmates’ portraits. Realising he could improve his capabilities and make a life for himself, Ngobeni began an astonishing journey to liberation. “Perhaps the universe wanted me to become an artist,” he says.


August 2019 Newsletter

August 19, 2019 - Everard Read Cape Town

Both Turiya Magadlela & nomThunzi Mashalaba were invited to exhibit in Speculative Inquiry #1, the first exhibition focusing solely on living women abstract artists in Africa. Taking place at the Michaelis Galleries from 8-24 August, this exhibition is a speculative inquiry that considers the contributions of living black women artists and the potential their practices and work stand to contribute to studies on abstraction. Curated by Nkule Mabaso.

Turiya Magadlela has also been featured in Phaidon's recent publication Vitamin T: Threads and Textiles in Contemporary Art. 
This publication celebrates tapestry, embroidery, stitching, textiles, knitting, and knotting as used by visual artists worldwide. Vitamin T is the latest in the celebrated 'Vitamin' series in which leading curators, critics, and art professionals nominate living artists for inclusion. As boundaries between art and craft have blurred, artists have increasingly embraced these materials and methods, with the resulting works being coveted by collectors and exhibited in museums worldwide. If you would like to purchase this publication click here



Phillemon Hlungwani is featured festival artist at Hermanus FynArts 2019

February 22, 2019


Date: 8 - 17 June

Time: 09:00 - 17:00

Venue: FynArts Gallery 

In this exhibition Phillemon Hlungwani returns to the etching press which is his first love and whose arcane and ancient skills he has mastered. He also reprises a theme which is seminal to understanding who he is as a person and as an artist.

Raised in a rural African village by a mother widowed young, he grew up watching women work so that they and their families would survive. The unrelenting labour of women is a reality but to Hlungwani it is what nurtured his body and his talents, and he sees in it both love and redemption in their purest sense.

His complex and technically brilliant etchings take everyday subjects and make them clear to us (like purifying murky water) and in some of them he makes delicate use of hand colouring, thus emphasising the femininity of his subjects. These works have been made with the assistance of master printer Pontsho Sikhosana and her team at the Artist Proof Studio.

Exhibition presented in association within Knysna Fine Art and Everard Read Gallery.

The exhibition will be opened by Trent Read on Saturday 8 June at 14:00

Times of walkabouts to be announced.


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