Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi’s presentation at this year’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair marks the first time the artist’s work will be presented to a London audience. This simple fact has formed the narrative of the works presented here. Ngqinambi envisions this meeting as a theatrical event unfolding in pictorial space. The paintings collected here consider the consequences of the artist’s work encountering a new context, and imagine the cast of pictorial figures as real people arriving in a place vastly different to the one they call home.
Symbols which have come to characterise the artist’s work in recent years remain present in this new collection. These include the box structure, a symbol of restriction and containment; the flag, signalling questions of nationhood and power; the running figure, who embodies an urgency both to escape and to arrive; and vast, illuminated skies which lend the artist’s images a romantic gravitas while alluding to his own strong sense of spirituality.
The repetition of these symbols in a new context allows both for intriguing new images as well as a continuation of the artist’s long held interest in relations of power. With the complicated history between the United Kingdom and South Africa in mind, as well as the challenges around national identity both countries currently face, these images take on a new relevance and impact. Thus, this new collection of work is essentially a narrative of encounter – on personal, interpersonal and global stages.
A mostly self-taught painter, Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi (born Cape Town, 1977) studied at the Community Arts Project in Cape Town from 2000 to 2001. The artist has participated in various exhibitions both locally and abroad and is the recipient of a number of international residency fellowship awards including a Thami-Mnyele residency in Amsterdam. In 2012 he was selected to represent South Africa at the Dakar Biennale where he was the winner of the Foundation Blachere Award and subsequently completed a residency fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany. In 2014 Ngqinambi’s work was included in The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town. The exhibition was curated by Meghna Singh to coincide with the screening of the film, Miners Shot Down; a documentary by Rahad Desai dealing with the 2012 Marikana Massacre. To date he has held two solo exhibitions at Barnard and was the gallery’s featured artist at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London in 2017.
Barnard Gallery has presented the artist’s work at the Cape Town Art Fair (2013, 2015 & 2016), Joburg Art Fair (2014) and will also do so at the forthcoming AKAA (Also Known As Africa) in Paris (2017). Ngqinambi’s work features in several prestigious local collections, including amongst others the Iziko South African National Gallery, University of Cape Town and SANLAM.