Norval Foundation, an art museum based in Cape Town, will be opening a new exhibition dedicated to the works of Cinga Samson. Opening at 19h00 on the 13th of December 2023, the exhibition focuses on a selection of twenty works of the artist that showcase the Cape Town- based painter’s mastery of the medium, with a presentation of works produced from 2015 to 2023. Titled Ukhe Nje Wasondela, Ndakuphosa Kulo Mlambo in isiXhosa, the artist’s native language, the exhibition title translates to If you come close, I will push you into the river…, serving as an invitation by way of a taunt and a light goading to step into Samson’s painterly world.
The importance of Samson’s painterly practice lies in his creation of a singularly unique visual language based on the vernacular of his native South Africa. Scenes of ritual-like activity are swathed within questions about life and the self. His subjects are set against the backdrop of conventional motifs of landscape painting and everyday elements of life in South Africa including flora, fauna, and views of mountains in the background. The large-scale landscapes hint at the ritual-like activities that dominate his cultural and social landscape. Imagery of strelitzias and red canna flowers are often portrayed interlaced in the hands of Samson’s subjects. These innocuous motifs can be seen as lifted from classical notions of painting and the composition of still lives, and which are given new meaning by Samson through their inclusion and placement in his work. Some still-life paintings on display have been composed as if photographic pictures made with a wide camera lens; the still life by Samson has been modernised, and therein lies the first of many surprises. Paintings of figures and subjects that are often mysterious, whether it be his small-sized portraits of a close-up of a subject or larger works of multiple figures, are placed in dark settings and suggest an otherworldly place.
The exhibition forms part of the Norval Foundation’s ongoing mission and work to support and promote African artists and artists from the African diaspora. The museum has exhibitions that change annually, and has showed artworks that have represented a multitude of mediums since its inception in 2018.
Reflecting on the exhibition, artist Cinga Samson commented; “It’s wonderful to see how Ukhe Nje Wasondela, Ndakuphosa Kulo Mlambo has come about. It’s such a delight to see my works, from different parts of the world, return to South Africa just for this exhibition. I’m excited for people to witness this moment, especially for the next nine months. Norval Foundation has been a friend, a great supporter of my work, and an extraordinary champion of contemporary art on this continent. So to have an exhibition here, which reflects my artistic concerns, is absolutely marvellous. ”
The exhibition invites viewers to reflect on questions of being and seeing, and the mastery of the medium by the painter. Ukhe Nje Wasondela Ndakuphosa Kulo Mlambo is curated by Heba El Kayal, Norval Foundation’s Chief Curatorial Consultant, and is open for viewing from the 13th of December 2023 until the 1st of September 2024 at Norval Foundation.