- Place where the work was made
- Media categories
- Painting , Collage
- Materials used
- collage, acrylic and oil on canvas
- 140.0 x 180.3 x 10.0 cm
- Purchased with funds provided by Atelier 2021
- Not on display
- Accession number
- © Sam Nhlengethwa
- Artist information
Works in the collection
In Tribute to Ephraim Ngatane, Sam Nhlengethwa has employed his signature combination of painting and collage, bring the two techniques together in such a manner that it is difficult for the viewer to discern between painted and printed elements. Nhlengethwa often pays homage to other artists in his work and in this painting he references Ephraim Ngatane, an artist and activist who was pioneering in his depiction of black South African political and social realities. Ngatane died in 1977 (at the age of 33) after a short but highly influential career.
The painting portrays a domestic interior that features two paintings by Ngatane: Reading a Newspaper 1969, which is in the collection of a prominent Black private collector in Johannesburg; and a street scene in Soweto, very typical of the artist’s depictions of life in apartheid segregated townships. (The former is depicted in an oversized frame – a framing technique commonly used in South Africa in the 1970s to enhance the importance of a smaller work). Also depicted are three works of traditional African art from Nhlengethwa’s personal collection: two masks of West African origin, and a bowl thought to be from the Limpopo region of South Africa. The mid-century credenza and pendant light are items from the artist’s home. By bringing traditional African sculpture together with politically oriented art and modern furniture, Nhlengethwa paints a complex and nuanced portrait of contemporary South African art. As with many of his interiors, which are often devoid of people, the painting also functions as a form of self-portraiture, representing the artist’s aesthetic taste as well as his politics.