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Nov 28 – Dec 19, 2020

The Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize, in collaboration with the Everard Gallery, Johannesburg, presents Abongile Sidzumo’s first solo exhibition - Dancing in the Dust.

Abongile Sidzumo (b.1996) lives and works in Cape Town. In 2013, at the age of 17, he won the Shoprite Checkers Strokes of Genius Art Competition in the painting category, receiving a contribution towards furthering his art studies, as well as a contribution towards the development of his school’s art programmes. Sidzumo completed his degree in Fine Art at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2019 and received the Simon Gerson prize for excellence upon graduation, joining the likes of Bronwyn Katz, Dada Khanyisa, Ed Young and Alexandra Karakashian. During his final year at Michaelis in 2019, he participated in the student-run group show, MICROPORE, and, the following year, his work was featured in We’ve come to take you home #1, an exhibition of recently acquired artworks by the University of Cape Town and curated by Amogelang Maledu.

He was then shortlisted, and selected as the winner of the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize in 2020.


Artist Statement

The work is a reflection on my personal life and often interrogates the way we co-exist as human beings, while also looking at our relationship with the nature. My practice is focused on the notion of tracing back events of the past as way of making sense of the present moment. My work is based on revisiting personal memories that connect to spaces that I’ve lived in, and everyday life in marginalised communities. The importance of the collective and creating alternative spaces that allow people to exchange ideas and share knowledge.

There are various occasions that bring people together, whether it’s a celebration or a riot, happiness or pain. The process of stitching leather off-cuts and the repurposing of discarded materials speaks to the notion of healing the trauma that was inflicted on black people during Apartheid, while the experience of post-apartheid South Africa appears to be something that’s in the process of repairing. Leather is made from cattle skin and cattle are a symbol wealth and power. Leather is also used to manufacture bags, shoes, and clothing and has a luxury status. Owning a leather item means taking care of it and making sure it stays shining.

This body of work is focused on transforming found objects, intended to make us think about the ways we are familiar with them in their original context. My work draws influence from the art-historical practice of using ready-made objects and combined with craft techniques such as stitching and weaving. The forms are influenced by the notion of rewriting one’s own narrative of their history, giving shape to a narrative that has been disfigured, and misrepresented. I make reference to sources such as childhood games, mythology and the performance of everyday life, while also making links with the history of dislocation, migration, land and labour. I aim to engage the viewer with the work through its materiality without directly depicting the subjects I’m dealing with.  


Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize

The Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize is an award aimed at assisting young and emerging visual artists to launch their careers in the art industry. The award acknowledges excellence in emerging artists under the age of 35, specializing in sculpture, drawing and painting, or mixed media and provides an opportunity to showcase their talents to a broader audience.

The Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize provides the nominated artist with a twelve-week studio residency and solo exhibition at the Everard Read gallery, Johannesburg. The artist will be provided with studio space, as well as a fully-funded research workshop in London coordinated by Infra–Afrika Advisory. This Initiative has been running for four years now. Previous recipients of the art prize are Tendai Mupita, Simphiwe Buthelezi, Phenyo Melody Madiba, and the 2020 winner, Abongile Sidzumo.