Lehmann Maupin

Nicholas Hlobo: Elizeni Ienkanyiso

Hosted by: Lehmann Maupin


This exhibition has already taken place

What's On / Past exhibitions / Nicholas Hlobo: Elizeni Ienkanyiso

Past Exhibition Information

March 11, 2022 - April 23, 2022

First Floor, 1 Cromwell Place


Lehmann Maupin

Press Release

New paintings by the South African artist best known for his weaving and stitching of metaphorically charged materials, such as colorful ribbon, leather, wood, and copper.

The artist combines anthropomorphic imagery and cultural symbols and traditions to create amalgamated forms that feel at once familiar, alien, and ancient. Hlobo’s practice engages themes of self-discovery and explores the intersections of his race, gender, and cultural and sexual identity within the context of his South African heritage. In his newest body of work, the artist introduces colorful acrylic paint for the first time, returning to a classic fine art medium that he has not employed since he was a student. Hlobo’s combination of acrylic with his signature leather and satin ribbon interventions unites craft and fine art materials within a single canvas, reflecting his enduring interest in resisting strict dichotomies and hierarchies in favor of fluid hybridity.

The works in Elizeni Ienkanyiso comprise a menagerie of reptilian and aquatic animals, including turtles, lizards, snakes, and hatchlings. Hlobo described the experience of creating these pieces as a process of “finding joy or warmth” after the effects of the global pandemic, and this sentiment is echoed in these animal’s cold-blooded nature and their need to seek heat to survive and flourish. The show’s title, which translates from Xhosa to “on the wave of enlightenment” is taken from the only circular canvas in the exhibition. In this work, the artist interprets the abstract forms and swirls as resembling a human-like figure surfing a giant wave. Considering the many metaphorical “waves” of the COVID-19 pandemic, here Hlobo implies recent demands to navigate global uncertainty and hardship and suggests that through traversing these difficult waters we can come to a new, more profound understanding of self and society.

Image: Nicholas Hlobo, Untitled (TBC), 2021 (detail). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin. Photo by Anthea Pokroy

This Cromwell Place exhibition has already taken place

New events and exhibitions

About the Hosts

Lehmann Maupin

Lehmann Maupin

Since inception, Lehmann Maupin has been instrumental in introducing international artists in new geographies. This mission has resulted in historic first exhibitions in New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul. 

Lehmann Maupin London, located at Cromwell Place, functions as a dynamic multi-purpose space, offering an alternative to the traditional gallery model. Conceived in response to the shifting needs of its artists and the broader arts community, Lehmann Maupin London is foregoing a fixed exhibition program and instead engage in site-specific activations, installations, and performances.

This innovative model allows the gallery to develop focused presentations that highlight critical issues of the day, while also providing a platform for artists to think outside of the traditional presentation of a new body of work. In addition, the gallery hosts a regular series of public programs to keep audiences engaged in the current practices and concerns of its artists.

Cromwell Place uses cookies to make the site simpler. Find out more about cookies. Got it