Selected Works

Sam Nhlengethwa

Makeba and Kuti, 2019 Mixed media on canvas

Sam Nhlengethwa

Inspired by Romare Bearden and Ernest Cole, 2018 Mixed media on canvas Work: 120 x 220 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

Waiting behind the stage, 2018 Mixed media on canvas Work: 140 x 140 cm

With Marguerite Stephens

Near the Station (Drum) , 2016 Woven mohair tapestry 210 x 175 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

Tribute to Ephraim Ngatane, 2014 Collage, acrylic and oil on canvas Work: 180 x 240 x 10 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

(Waiting) ... to be rescued I, 2018 Mixed media on canvas Work: 100 x 140 x 10 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

The Exit, 2015 Oil and acrylic on canvas Work: 92 x 105 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa be rescued II, 2018 Mixed media on canvas Work: 100 x 140 x 10 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

Solo, 2019 Mixed media on canvas Work: 60 x 50 x 5 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

Tribute to Henri Texier, 2012 Acrylic and collage on canvas Work: 150 x 200 x 10 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

East View: Corner Nugget and 125 Kerk Streets., 2019 Mixed media on canvas Work: 95 x 115 cm

Sam Nhlengethwa

Rushing, 2016 Painted bronze Work: 160 x 100 x 45 cm


Sam Nhlengethwa was born in the mining community of Payneville Springs in 1955 and grew up in Ratanda location in Heidelberg, east of Johannesburg. He completed a two-year Fine Art Diploma at the Rorkes Drift Art Centre in the late 1970s. While he exhibited extensively both locally and abroad during the 1980s and ’90s, Nhlengethwa’s travelling solo show South Africa, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 1993 established him at the vanguard of critical consciousness in South Africa and he went on to win the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1994.

Nhlengethwa was born into a family of jazz lovers; his two brothers both collected jazz music and his deceased eldest brother was a jazz musician. “Painting jazz pieces is an avenue or outlet for expressing my love for the music,” he once said in an interview. "As I paint, I listen to jazz and visualise the performance. Jazz performers improvise within the conventions of their chosen styles. In an ensemble, for example, there are vocal styles that include freedom of vocal colour, call-and-response patterns and rhythmic complexities played by different members. Painting jazz allows me to literally put colour onto these vocal colours.

“Jazz is rhythmic and it emphasises interpretation rather than composition. There are deliberate tonal distortions that contribute to its uniqueness. My jazz collages, with their distorted patterns, attempt to communicate all of this. As a collagist and painter, fortunately, the technique allows me this freedom of expression… What I am doing is not new though, as there are other artists before me who painted jazz pieces. For example, Gerard Sekoto, Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse.”

Nhlengethwa’s work has been included in key exhibitions such as Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and major publications such as Phaidon’s The 20th Century Art Book. He has had several solo shows in South Africa and abroad, exhibiting in the 12th International Cairo Biennale (2010) and in Constructions: Contemporary Art from South Africa at Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi (2011) in Brazil. In 2018 Nhlengethwa was included on the group exhibition Beyond Borders: Global Africa at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.


Sam Nhlengethwa / Joburg Sele...

12 October - 16 November 2019

Sam Nhlengethwa / Waiting/ / ...

08 November - 01 December 2018

the silences between

24 August - 29 September 2017

Sam Nhlengethwa / The Past an...

15 October - 05 November 2016


Sam Nhlengethwa launches prin...

Posted 01 August 2019

Print retrospective show for ...

Posted 04 June 2019

Koalane and Nhlengethwa on gr...

Posted 08 August 2018

Yinka Shonibare, Kudzanai Chi...

Posted 03 August 2018


Sam Nhlengethwa / Sunday Time...

Sam Nhlengethwa / Art Throb /...

Sam Nhlengethwa / Sunday Time...

Sam Nhlengethwa / Business Da...