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ANDREW NHLANGWINI (article first published : 2004-03-28)

The NSA’s Main and Mezzanine Galleries will host an exhibition of paintings by Andrew Nhlangwini in April.

Andrew Nhlangwini is an artist and academic living and working in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. He graduated from University of Fort Hare Fine Art Department in 1993 and is in the final stages of completing his MTech. at the Port Elizabeth Technikon, where he is currently lecturing in Fine Art. His work is represented in numerous collections, including the Port Elizabeth Museum and the Sanlam Corporate collection.

The exhibition consists of large-scale oil paintings completed for his MTech degree and follows the tradition of narrative painting, or “history painting” - a genre usually associated with nationalist ideals. Andrew Nhlangwini expertly references this tradition to tell and interpret the story of Nongqawuse, the Xhosa visionary who, with instruction from the ancestors, prophesised that if all Xhosa cattle are slaughtered, the Xhosa will be liberated from English colonial onslaught.

The result of this instruction led to the downfall of the Xhosa, conquered by the British, as the only source of food was destroyed. Andrew Nhlangwini describes his work as “intended to communicate a mood that reflects interference of the Xhosa nation by the British, led by Sir George Grey. There are many versions of what Nongqawuse may or may not have told her people including the possibilities that she was an instrument of Sir George Grey or Mhlakaza, so the artist has deliberately not been specific in his depiction of Nongqawuse telling her story.

Instead the artist interprets this legend and uses symbolic representation to breathe new life into a well-documented history of the Eastern Cape. It is also significant that the story is not told from a colonial perspective, the lens shifting to make way for new readings and interpretations.

The exhibition opens on April 6 at 18h00 and runs until April 25.




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