Zwelethu Mthethwa, ‘Untitled from the Series Contemorary Gladiators’, 2008, Galería Oliva Arauna

About Zwelethu Mthethwa

Harnessing beauty as a strategy to draw attention to his socially engaged work, Zwelethu Mthethwa produces large-scale, gorgeous photographs of the marginalized citizens of his native South Africa. His color-saturated portraits capture subjects like migrant workers and Christian missionaries, whose serious faces seem both revealing and impenetrable. The history and politics of post-apartheid South Africa underpin Mthethwa’s work, which he makes in the service of his subjects and with an aim to foster a more nuanced understanding of his country. As he describes: “I made it my conviction to go out there through my art and try to paint a different picture of the other. […] So I’ve taken it upon me to change or provoke and ask questions that will tell a different story about Africa. About me, because essentially this is about me.”

South African, b. 1960, Durban, South Africa, based in Cape Town, South Africa

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Galería Oliva Arauna