Born in 1975 in Cape Town, Nicholas Hlobo grew up in a Xhosa family and attended university at the former Technikon Witwatersrand. Though originally planning to study art in order to work in the film industry, Hlobo decided to pursue a career as a visual artist as another way of contributing to South African culture. He obtained a bachelor’s degree of technology in fine arts in 2002 and continued living in Johannesburg.
Hlobo completed a printmaking apprenticeship in 1998, and his work featured in his first exhibition the same year. Hlobo’s sculptural and performance work has received more recognition recently. Since 2000, he has shown pieces in at least one and as many as ten exhibitions every year, at venues in South Africa, the United States and several European countries. Curator Tumelo Mosaka included him in his 10 Years, 100 Artists volume in 2004, marking Hlobo’s rise to public attention. After a three-month residency at the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Amsterdam in 2005, Hlobo held his first solo exhibition in 2006.
Hlobo’s works reference many aspects of his Xhosa heritage and incorporate concepts of gender, race, ethnicity, power, sexual identity and societal conflict. He has worked in a wide range of mediums – including wire, carpet, leather, chain and ribbon – and often infuses his physical pieces with performance work.
In 2006 he received the Tollman Award for Visual Art, in 2009 the Standard Bank Young Artist Award, and in 2011 the Rolex Visual Arts Protégé commendation. His work appears in the collections of the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town and the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
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