Sthenjwa Luthuli's first solo show with Unit London centres on ideas of patience, growth and self-belief. Coinciding with the artist's birth month, the exhibition is entitled Imfumbatho, a Zulu name meaning "birth secret".
This new body of work explores the notion of hidden talent and potential, understanding that, from the moment we are born, each of us has a specific purpose or destiny to fulfil. As a concept itself, Imfumbatho refers to the birth of a child, denoting the mystery that inevitably surrounds its future successes and accomplishments. Luthuli's artworks engage with the complex process of self-development, charting how, as we grow, we find ourselves along the way.
For Luthuli, his "birth secret" revealed itself to be his ability to create intricately handcrafted artworks. He began to use wood to distinguish himself from other artists. However, the wood process is particularly challenging as each work is meticulously hand carved and then painted, requiring patience and determination. The sweeping scale of many of these pieces reflects the perseverance of Luthuli's process, which never limits itself creatively. Luthuli begins with MDF wood board, typically sketching first to position his figures and patterns. He then uses a marker to embolden his lines before beginning the painstaking carving process; it can take two to three weeks to carve out a single piece. Once this step is complete, the artist applies paint to each individual part before varnishing to ensure the work's durability.
Press release courtesy Unit London.