Blessing Ngobeni exhibition. “Study Song of Chicotte” 18 Jan to 15 Feb 2020. Everard Read Gallery. 6 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Blessing Ngobeni has an interesting history. How he has made this name for himself out of the adversity of his early years is a wonderful testament to the person.
This is a new series of hand-coloured linocuts based on a 2016 exhibition. These linocuts are a graphic reinterpretation of the collages from that exhibition. The collages were bold, large, and complex powerful works on canvas. The Chicotte of the title is a whip made from hippo hide that was used by the Belgian colonists during the brutal, cruel and inhumane reign of King Leopold ll. This is a metaphor for slavery linking South African history and the post-Apartheid years to the rest of Africa. He not only refers to historical slavery but also “slavery of the mind, the spirit – in the country, our relationships, ourselves” investigating politics, society and social media.
These hand-coloured linocuts are darker and more sombre compared to the canvases of his “The Song Of The Chicotte”2016. There is a maturity and paring down of his images, which makes them more powerful. The bold political statements are comic book and graffiti inspired. In an interview he said that “art should be funny and at the same time, speak loudly”. This body of work certainly does both.
This is based on a sculpture with the same title exhibited in 2018 in a group exhibition at Everard Read gallery.
“In response to Unknown” and “No King No War”