Nicholas Hlobo: Izele
(Published by Michael Stevenson, 2006)
reviewed by Andrew Lamprecht
At about 21cm square, a size that seems to have become something of the official South African standard for both sales brochures masquerading as art catalogues as well as more serious texts documenting exhibitions. Fortunately this catalogue may be described as falling more into the latter category than the former. This catalogue of Hlobo�s Izele not only presents us with lovely pictures of each of the brilliant works on that very memorable exhibition but also provides the important linguistic and other contextualising details that makes Hlobo�s witty and intelligent works so very significant as contemporary art. While the works are wonderful to see in an exhibition as purely visual and visceral artefacts, it is really through seeing them in their multilayered contexts and the brilliant deconstructive strategies of this most literate visual artist that one appreciates the artist�s true brilliance.
As usual in this series the catalogue is prefaced by an interview with the artist, conducted by Sophie Perryer who was also responsible for editing the document. I thought this interview useful but rather wished that Perryer had expanded it somewhat as the issues raised are really useful for getting a grip of what Hlobo is saying as well as being an interesting read for those of us who actually read the text in catalogues. While it would have been useful if it had been available in the first weeks of the exhibition, the delayed publication allowed the inclusion of images of a performance that took place at the opening.
If there is anyone left who has any doubt about the fact that this young artist is already one of our most sophisticated conceptualists, a browse through Catalogue No. 22 of Michael Stevenson�s series should put all doubts to rest.