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b. 1955, South Africa

Sam Nhlengethwa Biography

Born in Springs, South Africa in 1955. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Nhlengethwa was born into a family of jazz lovers; his two brothers both collected jazz music and his deceased eldest brother was a jazz musician. 'Painting jazz pieces is an avenue or outlet for expressing my love for the music,' he once said in an interview. 'As I paint, I listen to jazz and visualise the performance. Jazz performers improvise within the conventions of their chosen styles. In an ensemble, for example, there are vocal styles that include freedom of vocal colour, call-and-response patterns and rhythmic complexities played by different members. Painting jazz allows me to literally put colour onto these vocal colours.'

'Jazz is rhythmic and it emphasises interpretation rather than composition. There are deliberate tonal distortions that contribute to its uniqueness. My jazz collages, with their distorted patterns, attempt to communicate all of this. As a collagist and painter, fortunately, the technique allows me this freedom of expression...What I am doing is not new though, as there are other artists before me who painted jazz pieces. For example, Gerard Sekoto, Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse.'

Sam Nhlengethwa
featured artworks

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Pose I by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork painting
Sam Nhlengethwa Pose I, 2023 Acrylic, oil and collage on canvas
140 x 120 x 10 cm
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Senegal III by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork painting
Sam Nhlengethwa Senegal III, 1995 Oil on canvas
90 x 123 cm
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Art Blakey by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork mixed media
Sam Nhlengethwa Art Blakey, 2021 Mixed media on canvas
100.5 x 70.5 x 10 cm
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Count Basie’s Band by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork mixed media
Sam Nhlengethwa Count Basie’s Band, 2021 Mixed media on canvas
90.2 x 100.4 x 9.8 cm
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Frank Sinatra by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork mixed media
Sam Nhlengethwa Frank Sinatra, 2021 Mixed media on canvas
100.5 x 90.5 x 10.1 cm
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Cecil Taylor by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork mixed media
Sam Nhlengethwa Cecil Taylor, 2021 Mixed media on canvas
90.5 x 100.5 x 10.1 cm
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Charles Mingus by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork mixed media
Sam Nhlengethwa Charles Mingus, 2021 Mixed media on canvas
100.5 x 90.5 x 10 cm
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John Lee Hooker by Sam Nhlengethwa contemporary artwork mixed media
Sam Nhlengethwa John Lee Hooker, 2021 Mixed media on canvas
100.5 x 90.5 x 10 cm
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Sam Nhlengethwa
recent exhibitions

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Represented by this
Ocula Member Gallery

Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa
Goodman Gallery London, Johannesburg, Cape Town, East Hampton
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