Nicholas Hlobo will participate in On Site at the Petit Palais with his installation Mphephethe uthe cwaka (2017). Made from bent and manipulated brass instruments, Hlobo’s installation stands as a silent orchestra. The title, in his native Xhosa language, translates as “blowing them in silence”, relating to the power of music and sound, particularly the universality of the horn. The title also has sexual connotations, echoed through the phallic bronze mouthpieces attached to each sculpture. Hlobo relates the act of playing the instruments to oral sex. This installation captures the rhythmic movement seen throughout Hlobo’s oeuvre, and explores themes of transformation, fluidity, and ritual.
Nicholas Hlobo (b. 1975, Cape Town, South Africa; lives and works in Johannesburg) received a Fine Art degree from Johannesburg’s Technikon Witwatersrand in 2002. Hlobo creates works on paper, sculptures, installations, and performances using materials such as ribbon, rubber, leather, and wood. He explores the symbolic and associative power of these raw materials and interjects his own multi-faceted personal identity into his work. His evocative, anthropomorphic imagery and metaphorically charged materials investigate issues of sexuality, gender, and class in the context of his South African heritage.
Hlobo’s exhibition history includes solo exhibitions at Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague (2016); Locust Project, Miami (2013); National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2011); Savannah College of Art and Design, Lacoste, France (2010); Tate Modern, London (2008); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2008); and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2007). He has participated in several international biennials and notable group exhibitions including The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. (2015); Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2014); the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); La Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); the Liverpool Biennial (2010); the Guangzhou Triennial, China (2008); and Flow, Studio Museum in Harlem (2008).
His work is included in numerous collections including the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; and the Tate Modern, London. Hlobo has received numerous honors and distinctions such as the Rolex Visual Arts Protégé (2010-11); Standard Bank Young Artist Award (2009); and the Tollman Award for Visual Art (2006).