Artists We Love: Nandipha Mntambo

PHOTOS Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo

One of the highlights among the multitude of artworks by some of the continent’s best artists at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town is a mid-career retrospective exhibition featuring the work of Swaziland-born and Johannesburg-based Nandipha Mntambo.

We caught up with her to chat about the museum, local art and career highlights.

What does the opening of the Zeitz MOCAA mean for South Africa?
It’s a first for Africa, and it is going to change how people view art. When I was at school, most of the artists we studied were long deceased, or American and European artists. We knew very little about the artists working in our country and on the continent. For students to have the opportunity to see and experience the contemporary art they’re now learning about is amazing. I think it’ll shift how they perceive themselves, how they perceive being African, being South African.

artists we love

Emabutfo, 2009, comprising 24 figures.

How has the local art landscape changed since you graduated from UCT in 2007?
There’s been more encouragement for artists to explore their personal stories and interaction with their chosen medium, which is making the landscape a lot richer. Collectors are also taking more risks. Internationally, there’s long been the understanding of art as an investment, and here in South Africa we’re catching up.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2011 was definitely one. It was like a rubber stamp to say that I was working in the right direction and that people were interested in my work. Other highlights have been exhibiting abroad; and obviously being approached by the Zeitz MOCAA, and them deciding to buy a large body of my work and to support my career in future.

Nandipha’s solo exhibition, entitled The Snake You Left Inside Me, is running at the Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg until 19 January 2018.