Blessing Ngobeni

Blessing Ngobeni (b. 1985, Tzaneen, South Africa) creates large scale, multilayered canvases combining imagery from magazines, books, and social media within his distinctive figurative characters, to reflect the various perspectives of current affairs of our era. The artworks impart mixed sensibilities to the viewer: good and bad, negative and positive, excitements and calms, promises and disappointments, successes and failures. Between these binaries lie the complexities that determine the way we live, look, speak and interact. Ngobeni observes South Africa’s democracy maturing, but he also sees the constant, and consistent, repetition of mistakes. He questions, “Why are we turning a blind eye to the ripple effects that our past errors have on the present and future? Why is it that we are not taking a note of such error in our society? What about the ethical role and responsibility of art in this predicament of our time?

Ngobeni was named by Phaidon’s Vitamin P3 and Artspace as one of the “most important African painters working today,” alongside Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Meleko Mokgosi. Ngobeni studied at Newtown’s Artist Proof Studio. He is the winner of the 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist Award. He was also a first prize and gold award winner at the Gala Ex-Offenders Awards and has exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2019, and in several shows throughout South Africa and the United States. Ngobeni is in the collection of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.