Art Basel OVR: Pioneers: Online Viewing Room

24 - 27 March 2021 

Blessing Ngobeni is a multidisciplinary artist from South Africa whose critical language blends Dada, Surrealism and Neo Expressionism. He expands the language of collage to protest, celebrate and inform the human condition and Black culture.


Jenkins Johnson presents Blessing Ngobeni (b. 1985, Tzaneen, South Africa), a trailblazing contemporary artist working in the medium of collage. He incorporates elements from technology and traditional art historical movements to develop new, visual statements of cultural critique and expression. These statements converge to create new and powerful meaning in his compositions. The artist synthesize his influence through mixed media assemblage, combining images and photographs with custom paints and three-dimensional objects.


Ngobeni works across disciplines in painting, collage, sculpture, video animation, sound installations and live performances. He creates a hybrid language comprising the artistic grammar of Surrealism, the rebellion of Dada and the symbolic force of Neo-Expressionism in his large-scale paintings condemning South Africa’s socio-political system. Ngobeni’s work brings attention to the failures of the government to deliver on Nelson Mandela’s promises of a more equal society, post-Apartheid. His multi-layered canvases combine imagery from magazines, books, and social media within his distinctive figurative characters, reflecting various perspectives on current affairs of our time.


Ngobeni was named by Artspace as one of the “most important African painters working today”, and is a 2020 recipient of South Africa’s prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art; past awardees include William Kentridge and Mohau Modisakeng. Ngobeni was an artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA, and the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion. His works are in public institutions throughout South Africa including Johannesburg Art Gallery and he has been featured in Phaidon’s Vitamin P3. Ngobeni was recently included in Art Basel's article 'Cocoa butter poems and splashing colors: Discover five young artists in ‘OVR: Pioneers," described as one of the visionaries pushing boundaries, both material and temporal. He lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.