Both political and personal, critical and introspective, the work of Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi engages with social contexts and histories in subtle and unusual ways. His paintings seem to always be in motion, the figures captured within them always moving, departed but not yet arrived, running and tumbling in a vast no man’s land between past and present, dream and reality. As noted by Fay Jackson of Art South Africa, “Ngqinambi successfully makes political comment without propaganda, and conjures spectacle without being histrionic” drawing upon the traditions of both 19th century European Romanticism and 20th century Soviet art to create a style entirely his own, one that resists easy categorization. His love of theatre and film is apparent in the strong sense of narrative evident in his paintings, and the dramatas incurred by his sweeping, broiling skies, fevered brushstrokes and striking use of colour.
A mostly self-taught painter, Ngqinambi 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, 2015-2018), Joburg Art Fair (2014) and 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 and the University of Cape Town.