>   Untitled (Wazoneka)
Untitled (Wazoneka)
44.5" x 33"
Mixed media on paper

During the course of his career, artist Nicholas Hlobo has developed a distinctive body of work stitching and weaving together disparate materials such as ribbon, rubber, gauze and leather to create seductively tactile sculptures and drawings. His works are richly layered, anchored in references to Xhosa culture and the experience of life in post-apartheid South Africa, while reflecting upon themes of language and communication, as well as gender and sexuality.

In Untitled (Wazoneka), four meandering tentacles coalesce into a pale pink form that expands into a shape resembling an internal organ. Several of the stitched lines end abruptly, like stunted limbs. Light green sutures run down the center of the pink body like a central vein that is disturbed in two places by the incorporation of small black rubber discs into the mass. The sexual connotations of the suggestive forms, fleshy tones and slippery surfaces found in this work are confirmed by its title. Wazoneka most commonly means to spread oneself (open one’s legs) or to open up to people (bare one's soul). The word however can also be used to describe the act of hanging or stretching animal skins.

From Kerryn Greenberg, “Nicholas Hlobo,” in Wild is the Wind (exhibition catalog). Savannah College of Art and Design, 2010.