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Zawelela ngale is the first show by Hlobo in Sweden and the exhibition will include earlier artworks of importance combined with newly produced sculptures for the gallery space at Uppsala Art Museum, in the old Gustav Vasa castle.

Nicholas Hlobo would translate the exhibition title Zawelela ngale as “They have crossed to the other side” and by this he describes the performative act of transgressing, crossing a border, or things that have transcended onto another state. Zawelela ngale could be understood as the need to acknowledge changes and shifts in identities and the multifaceted nature of humans. The sculpture Umrhubuluzi, translated as “the crawler” from 2010 from the Norlinda and José Lima Collection, on a long term loan to Oliva Creative Factory Art Museum, Madeira in Portugal, is linked to the recurrent theme. A sea creature made out of rubber and organza, with a masklike face stitched together with red ribbons that loosely hang across the scull like dripping blood, or nerve fibres plugged in with the flux of contemporary society. The alien creature appears as both human and animal, hostile and yet desirable. Hlobo plays with the concept of gay fetish and the mermaid that is feminine, seductive and dangerous at the same time. The notion of water as life giving and a place for transformation and spirituality is present in the show. The artworks mimic plants and creatures, representing an abstract landscape. But the shapes also carry other meanings such as the violence in post-apartheid society or in nature itself. The crawler crossing to the other side could also be the MK soldiers, who during the liberation movement would sneak across the border to mobilize against the apartheid regime.

Nicholas Hlobo´s long career of international projects and solo shows includes those at Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design in Oslo (2011), Locust Projects in Miami (2013), and Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague (2016). He is represented in collections including Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, SFMOMA, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, amongst others. In 2011 Hlobo showed newly commissioned work on ILLUMInations, the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. He was also included in the biennales in Liverpool, 2010 and Sydney, 2012 and the Guangzhou Triennial, 2008. Hlobo was the first recipient of the Villa Extraordinary Award for Sculpture in 2016. He was the Tollman Award winner 2006, the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2009, and the Rolex Visual Arts Protégé for 2010/11, working with Anish Kapoor as his mentor. He is represented by Lehmann Maupin in New York and Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Curator: Rebecka Wigh Abrahamsson, Uppsala Art Museum.

Uppsala Art Museum is very grateful to the support by collectors, such as Ekard collection, Ki Collections, Norlinda and José Lima Collection and the generous collaboration with Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and the artist himself. 

3 februari 2017