Painted leather, wood, ribbon, steel, adjustable papier mâché mannequin, skull, and horns
145.0 x 65.0 x 104.0 (cm)
57.1 x 25.6 x 40.9 (inch)The installation presented here comprises works by South African artist Nicholas Hlobo. The artist’s central sculpture and several mixed-media works on canvas are all considered by the artist as sculptural reliefs, where Hlobo merges his signature materials of ribbon, leather, and canvas, as well as found objects, employed with the conceptual specificity of addressing complex issues of identity. At the core of Hlobo’s practice is the exploration of his own identity, an apprehension of qualities that exist outside of codifying labels of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. Language and narrative specifically play both a formal and conceptual role in Hlobo’s work. As an ethnic Xhosa, Hlobo always titles his work in the Xhosa language, imbuing the piece with a subtle personal narrative about his experience of creating. Along with the artist’s use of his native Xhosa language, visual innuendo plays a key role in his practice. Recurring imagery of phalluses, ovaries, and other bodily forms engage the viewer in a critical conversation touching on sexual identity, masculinity, and ethnicity.