Nicholas Hlobo, ‘Waxhotyiswa engekakhawulwa ’, 2017, Stevenson

About Nicholas Hlobo

One of South Africa’s leading artists, Nicholas Hlobo creates large sculptural structures and works on paper that explore ethnicity, masculinity, and sexual identity. Primarily constructed with ribbon and rubber detritus, Hlobo’s works depict phalluses, ovarian spaces, and other bodily references and sexual innuendos. Hlobo mines post-apartheid South Africa and his own Xhosa culture, drawing from Xhosa language for his titles. Ingubo Yesizwe (2008), originally commissioned by the Tate Modern, is a giant hybrid creature stitched together with pieces of leather and the rubber inner tubes of car wheels. The title, which translates to “clothes [or blanket] of the nation,” refers to the Xhosa ritual wherein cowhide is used to cover a corpse before burial for its protection upon entering the afterlife. Hlobo’s creature has been seen to represent both its own transformation from raw materials into form, and the potential for Africa’s transformation.

South African, b. 1975, Cape Town, South Africa, based in Johannesburg, South Africa