The Norval Foundation presents Alt and Omega: Jackson Hlungwani, a comprehensive retrospective the South African artist’s work from the 1960s to his death in 2010.
Jackson Hlungwani (1923 – 2010) was born into a XiTsonga-speaking family that prided itself as being part of a Shangaan warrior lineage. Growing up in rural Limpopo and northern Mpumalanga, he never attended school and, as a child, herded the family goats and sheep. When he was old enough his father taught him to carve, as his father had before him, transferring skills, familiar styles and underlying concepts common to the community.
During the 1940s, Hlungwani was ordained as a lay preacher in the African Zionist Church, which had links to the American-based Ethiopian Missionary Church.
Hlungwani’s defining moment of his life, and of his career as an artist, was in 1978 when he experiences a spiritual vision while in a deeply suicidal state. His vision was of Christ and two figures who appeared to him and made three promises.
While Hlungwani was familiar with city life, having worked in Johannesburg, his creative life was situated far from an urban artistic hub.
He developed an artistic genre that was linked to his spiritual practices, creating an innovative visual language that integrated popular culture with the traditions of Tsonga-Shangaan wood carving, and biblical narratives with African spirituality.
Although he had completed some sculptures in the 1960s, Hlungwani’s artistic output and its complexity expanded radically during the 1980s, and so did his profile, both nationally and internationally.
Alt and Omega: Jackson Hlungwani received a commendation from international auction house, Sotheby’s, making Norval Foundation the first visual art institution in Africa, and one of five globally to be commended by Sotheby’s for curatorial excellence.
Venue: Norval Foundation, 4 Steenberg Rd, Tokai
Time: 2 Sep 2020 to 26 July 2021
Cost: R120 for one year access from the date of purchase.