P L A Y    I T    A G A I N ,    S A M !
A R T    A N D    J A Z Z    I N    T H E    W O R L D    O F     S A M    N H L E N G E T H W A

Click on the links below the thumbnails to view the full image with cataloguing
For more information on the artist, see below
To go to the main Rose Korber Art website click here

"Black music and musicians have long been a key subject for the artist", writes Sue Williamson, in her new book, South African Art Now. "In the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's and 1930's, jazz played a very significant role in black urban centres in South African cities, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town. Musicians from the 1950s and 1960s, like singer, Miriam Makeba, trumpeter, Hugh Masekela, and pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim, moved on from electrifying local audiences to become international stars."

Similarly, noted Johannesburg artist, Sam Nhlengethwa - regarded as one of South Africa's leading contemporary artists - is a dedicated jazz fanatic. He was born in 1955 in the township of Payneville, Springs (a mining community, east of Johannesburg) into a family of jazz lovers; his two brothers both collected jazz music and his deceased eldest brother, Ranky, was a jazz musician. Today, Sam has, arguably, the largest collection of jazz CD's in the country, and his studio at the Bag Factory in Fordsburg reverberates, at all times, with the compelling and pulsating sounds of jazz. "I think, at heart, I am a non-practising jazz musician", he confesses.

While his métier might be art, his inspiration is undoubtedly jazz, says art writer and critic Sean O'Toole. In his prints and paintings, Sam uses overlays of techniques, such as collage, drawing and photography, fusing his two passions. "Jazz simply inspires me. Of all the subjects I have dealt with, none has been re-visited like jazz. Jazz is second nature to me."

Sam explains how the syncopated rhythm of the jazz is made tangible in his art: the disjuncture of the fragmented collage or montage is the visual equivalent of the twisted harmonies and staccatos of jazz. "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. Like a jazz musician, who can depart from the original melody altogether and improvise on its harmonic base, I create a well-balanced final product with interesting textures, perspective and dimensions from juxtaposing pieces from different original backgrounds."

"The jazz musicians I chose inspire me. Their music is educational. Nina Simone, for instance, sings about the suffering of African-Americans. I enjoy her music and message. I buy jazz CD's and DVD's as part of my career. Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, John Coltrane, and feature highly in my collection... You can bring together jazz musicians from different backgrounds to perform, and they will produce stunning piece of music!"

Sam Nhlengethwa's early lithographs were a series of five limited edition prints around the Jazz theme, and were published to coincide with his prestigious exhibition as the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year in 1994. This series proved to be so popular that, after repeated requests, the artist returned to the jazz theme in 2002, this time he produced ten large colour prints, which paid tribute to ten great musicians, who had inspired him over the years. These included names such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Ron Carter and Sammy Davis Junior, as well as three South African 'greats' - the iconic Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim and Lemmy 'Special' Mabasa.

But Sam's interests are much more wide-ranging than the jazz theme alone: his work is largely figurative and he has explored many other themes that are close to his heart, such as the plight of mineworkers (MINE TRIP, 1996); the physical space of contemporary Africa (INTERIORS, 1998 and 2003); reminiscences of the political and personal (GLIMPSES OF THE 50'S AND 60'S, 2004); life in the townships (THE TOWNSHIP SERIES, 2005), and the remarkable suite of lithographs which are a tribute to six particular South African artists he has most admired - William Kentridge, Marlene Dumas, Dumile Feni, Judith Mason, David Koloane and Peter Clark (TRIBUTE SERIES, 2008).

It is the theme of jazz, however, to which Sam is drawn again and again. Over the last year, he has produced yet another two superb portfolios: one is a small edition of digital prints, in brilliant colour, FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, 2009. It is homage to a number of jazz greats, such as Gideon Nxumalo, Chris McGregor and Art Blakey, who have been especially inspirational to Sam in the past decade and a half.

In Sam's most recent series of lithographs (2010), he honours an album which, for him, is the most iconic music of all - KIND OF BLUE by Miles Davis and sextet, produced in April 1959.

"I'm still celebrating five glorious decades of good quality jazz, as portrayed in Kind of Blue," comments Sam. This is Miles Davis's masterpiece, and he has left a legacy that is still inspiring jazz musicians and jazz lovers."

"In my studio in downtown Johannesburg, a week never passes without my listening to 'Kind of Blue'," Sam enthuses. "I actually have three copies: two CD's: one for my car, the other for my studio and a vinyl for my collection. Jazz musos call it the bible and critics call it the one jazz album every fan must own."

To view Sam Nhlengethwa's biography, please see below the gallery of works.

So Then Who Did It?

Precisely My Point

Tribute to Zwelethu Mthethwa

Tribute to Helen Sebidi

Tribute to Judith Mason

Tribute to Peter Clarke

Tribute to Judith Mason

Jazz Series: Tribute to Miriam Makeba

Miles Davis

The Black Bath

Miles Davis Solo II


Car Wash


A Hotel In Randfontein

Homage to Mankunku Ngozi



Vegetable Bakkie


Fetching Water

Cold Day in Manyatseng

Sdudla (Big/Large)

Dr. Morare's Surgery

Skorokora (Scrap Car)

A Busy Day

Whites Only Area

Pass Raid

Washing Day

Going to Church

Near the Bus Stop

The Shebeen

Stop It Verwoerd

Part Time Job II

Migrant Labourers


A Black Car

Jozi Series - Idling

Jozi Series: Market Place II

Jozi Series: Rushing

Jozi Series: Job Done

Jozi Series: One Way

From the Sketch Book

Public Phones



1955, Payneville, Springs, South Africa

Education and Training

Tlakula High School (Kwa-Thema, Springs)
1976-77    Johannesburg Art Foundation (part time)
1977-78    Fine Art Diploma, Rorkes Drift Art Centre, Natal (full time)

Solo Exhibitions

1990    Cassirer Fine Art (with guest Daniel Phaladi)
1993   "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow " Travelling show: Market Gallery, JHB; NSA Gallery (Durban)
1994/5  "Homage to Jazz" Standard Bank Young Artist Award travelling show
1995    "Senegalese Images" Goodman Gallery, Hyde Park, JHB
1996    "Mine Trip" Goodman Gallery, Hyde Park, JHB
1997    "Interiors" Goodman Gallery, Hyde Park, JHB
2001    "Jozi People" Goodman Gallery, Hyde Park, JHB
2002    "All that Jazz" Kubatana Moderne Gallery, Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
2004    "Glimpses of the fifties and sixties": Florence Lynch Gallery, Chelsea, New York
2004    "Glimpses of the fifties and sixties": Goodman Gallery, JHB  
2004    "Glimpses of the fifties and sixties": Joao Ferreira Gallery, Cape  
2005    "Sam Nhlengethwa" Axis Gallery, New York
2006    "Townships Re-visited" Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
2008    "Tributes" Goodman Gallery Cape, Cape Town

Two Man Shows and Collaborations

1987    Two-man show with Madi Phala: Fuba Gallery
1989    Two-man show: with Gerard Sekoto, Cassirer Fine Art, Johannesburg
2000    Two-man show with Zwelethu Mthethwa: Seippel Art Gallery, Cologne, Germany
2001    Two-man show "Sam meets Zwelethu" a collaboration with Zwelethu Mthethwa: Goodman Gallery, JHB
2004    Two-man show "In a City" A collaboration with Andrew Tshabangu: Bag Factory Artists Studios, Fordsburg
2007    Two man show with Robert Hodgins: Art on Paper Gallery, Milpark

Group Exhibitions

1981    Civic centre, Kwa-Thema, Springs
1981    Haengi Gallery, Johannesburg
1983    Shell Gallery, Johannesburg
1984    Fuba Gallery, Johannesburg
1985    Tributaries, Africana Museum, sponsored by BMW
1986    The Thupelo show, Fuba Gallery
1986    Frankfurt, West Germany
1986    Academy Gallery, Paris, France, with Gerard Sekoto, David Koloane, Mabaso, Tony Nkotsi and Durant Sihlali
1987    Thupelo show in Botswana
1987    The Art Foundation (Thupelo)
1987    Cassirer Fine Art, Johannesburg
1988    Cassirer Fine Art, Johannesburg
1989    Thupelo show, Fuba Gallery
1990    Thupelo show, Fuba Gallery
1990    Goodman Gallery, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
1995    "Africa '95", White Chapel, London
1997    Cross Over Johannesburg to Nantes, held in Nantes, France
1998    Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
1998    The Art Salon, Bay Hotel, Cape Town
1999    "Fast Forward Rewind", Van Reekun Museum, Apeldoorn, Netherlands
1999    South African Trade Exhibition, Mauritius
1999    "Artery" Association for Visual Arts, (Metropolitan Gallery): Cape Town
1999    The Art Salon, Bay Hotel, Cape Town
2000    The Art Salon, Bay Hotel, Cape Town
2000    Artlook South Africa: Gahlberg Gallery, College of DuPage, Chicago
2000    Project Conflux - a touring exhibition started in Cape Town
2001    "Lines of Connection", Cameroon  
2001    The Art Salon, Bay Hotel, Cape Town
2002    "Towards new  Cultures", Trevi Exhibition Area, Bolzano, Italy.
2002    "South African Art from 1850 to 2002", Goodman Gallery, JHB
2002    "African & African American Shared Understanding Project", Atlanta, Georgia
2002    "Ubuntu" group exhibition, Malaysia
2003    "Southern African Stories: A Print Collection", Center for Contemporary Art in the Fernandes Industrial Centre, Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago.
2003    Group Exhibition: Florence Lynch Gallery, Chelsea, New York.
2003    Group Exhibition: 8th Havana Bienale, Cuba
2004    New Identities - Contemporary South African Art: Museum Bochum, Germany.
2004    POST- Contemporary South African Photography: Tama Art University Museum, Tokyo, Japan.
2005    Unity Series at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland.
2006    Black Goats. Art on Paper, Johannesburg
2006    Faces to Names. Alliance Francaise, Johannesburg
2007    Lift Up 2: Goodman Gallery, Cape Town


1991    Illustrations for the "Sunday Star" magazine
1991    Cover illustration for Alex Civic association
1993    "Weekly Mail" Artists of South Africa Subscription promotion
1994    Paperback book cover design for "None to accompany me" by Nadine Gordimer
1995    Pope John Paul II's illustration for the "Sunday Times Inside Magazine"
1996    Gauteng Provincial Legislature
1997    Anglo American Corporation
1997    FEDSURE Life Assurance Ltd
1998    MTN Building (Sandton, JHB)
2000    Daimler Chrysler Award for South African Jazz 2001: Illustration for CD cover, posters and invitations
2001    Metallon Mining House
2002    Emoyeni House (Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works): Parktown
2004    Paperback book cover design for "Soweto Inside Out" by Joe Thloloe
2004    Hardbook cover design for Soweto Blues, Jazz & Popular music & politics in South Africa by Gwen Ansell
2004    Designing of the Carlton Hotel Alumni commemorative plate


MOBIL Court (Cape Town)
Johannesburg Art Gallery
World Bank (USA)
Botswana Art Museum
MTN  Art Institute (JHB)
SASOL (Johannesburg)
The German Art Museum (Frankfurt, Germany)
National Gallery (Cape Town)
Durban Art Gallery
Tatham Art Gallery (Pietermaritzburg)
Standard Bank Head Office, JHB
BMW, Pretoria
Mercedes-Benz, JHB
Mandela Foundation  (Parktown)
Johannesburg Stock Exchange (Sandton, JHB)
SABC (SA Broadcasting Corporation,  Auckland Park, JHB)
Daimler Chrysler HQ (Pretoria)
Harry Oppenheimer & Sons (JHB)
Millenium Consolidated Investment (Sandton)
Mr  Geoff  Humber (New York  USA)
Mr Robert Loder (London, UK)
Mr Harry Belafonte (USA)
Ms Gay McDougall (USA) (Director: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights)
Ms Delfina for Delfina Studios (London, UK)
Mr Samuel  L. Jackson (USA)
Mr Leslie Israele (Director: M & L Distributors (Pty) Ltd. : Cape Town)
Mr Mfundi Vundla (SA)
Johannesburg Consolidated Investments (JCI)
Dr  Oupa Morare (SA)
Dr Johnny Msendane (SA)
Numerous works around South Africa and abroad

Nominations And Awards

1988    A.A. Vita awards nominee (JHB)
1991    A.A. Vita Awards nominee (JHB)
1991    Triangle International Artists Workshop (New York, USA)
1992    A.A. Vita Awards nominee (JHB)
1992    Delfina Studio Trust Summer Award (London, UK)
1993    Betrams VO Art for Africa Award finalist (JHB)
1993    Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for 1994
1994    First National Bank Vita Awards nominee (JHB)
1994    TENQ African Workshop - Senegal (West Africa)
1995    African Studies Association conference, Florida (USA)
1996    First National Bank Vita Awards nominee (JHB)
1999   Medicins Sans Frontiers project "Art without Frontiers", Dubai (UAE) where 40 international artists took part in painting the world's longest painting to raise funds for MSF
2003    Havanna Biennale, Cuba

Academic Record and Residencies

Residencies:  1976 - 1977    Johannesburg Art Foundation, Johannesburg
Postgraduate:  1977 - 1978    Diploma, Rorkes Drift Art Centre, Natal, South Africa

Related Activities

1992    FUBA [JHB]: Part-time teaching until mid-1992
2000    College of DuPage, [Glen Ellyn, Chicago, USA]: Conducting Liberal  Arts Workshops and presenting lectures in collaboration with Associate Professor Check Boone - as part of the ARTLOOK South Africa project.
2000    Havanna Cuba: participated in the filmaing of the "Afro-Cuban Connaction" documentary
2000    MTN Art Institute Community project : Conducting art workshops in various schools around the country
2000    Gerard Sekoto Foundation Community project : Involved in a murals painting project with students (Northern Province & Sophiatown)
2000    "Secure the Future": a Bristol Myers Squibb art project to promote HIV/AIDS research.
2001    Cameroon: "Lines of Connection": an MTN Art Institute project - exhibiting and facilitating education workshops for students from Douala, Cameroon
2001    Gerard Sekoto Foundation project in partnership with Mamelodi Heritage Foundation, De Beers and Pretoria Art Museum in a murals painting project involving local students
2002    "Johannesburg Art City" visual arts exhibition Wall Project (part of the WSSD)
2002    MTN Art Institute art competition judging in schools.
2003    Matric Art Seminar project including an illustrated lecture to Art & Design students from PE Technikon and Rhodes University
2004    Facilitator: Vaal Technikon Art workshop
2004   London: Sir Robert Loder….Triangle Workshop networking

Nominations, Awards And Residencies

1988    A.A. Vita awards nominee (Jhb)
1991    A.A. Vita Awards nominee (Jhb)
1991    Triangle International Artists Workshop (New York, USA)
1992    A.A. Vita Awards nominee (Jhb)
1992    Delfina Studio Trust Summer Award (London, UK)
1993    Betrams VO Art for Africa Award finalist (Jhb)
1993    Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for 1994 (RSA)
1994    First National Bank Vita Awards nominee (Jhb)
1994    TENQ African Workshop - Senegal (West Africa)
1995    African Studies Association conference, Florida (USA)
1996    First National Bank Vita Awards nominee (Jhb)
1999    Medicins Sans Frontiers project Art without Frontiers, Dubai (UAE) where 40 international artists took part in painting the worlds longest painting to raise funds for MSF



Williamson, S. South African Art Now ( 2009 Harper Collins Publishers,) Oliphant, A.et al, 2004. Democracy X: marking the present, re-presenting the past
University of South Africa Press, Pretoria, South Africa
Perryer, S. 2004. 10 Years 100 Artists: Art in a Democratic South Africa
Bell-Roberts in association with Str;uik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa ISBN: 1868729877
Hobbs, P. & Rankin, E. 2003. Rorke's Drift: Empowering Prints
Double Storey, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN: 1-919930 -13-2
Barnes, R. 1999. The 20th Century Artbook. Phaidon Press Limited, London, England, p336. ISBN: 0 7148 3850
The 20th Century Artbook (1999 Phaidon Press Limited ) ISBN: 7148 3850, pg.336
Oliphant, A. 1995. A Human Face: The Death of Biko and South African Art: Seven stories about Modern Art in Africa. Whitechapel Gallery, London, England, p258
Guez, N. 1992. L'Art Africain Contemporain/Contemporary Africa Art: Guide Edition (Association Dialogue Entre Les Cultures), 92 - 94, p27. 1992 -4. ISBN: 2-909711
Williamson. S. Resistance Art in South Africa. 1989 David Philip, Cape Town, South Africa

Selected Articles and Reviews

"The Money Standard" Vol. 1 No 4 1999. Page 26
"FNB Vita Art Now 1995". ISBN: 0620201975. Page 36
"Vuka SA" Vol. 2, No 3, June/July 1997. Issn 1025-2134. Pages 6 - 7
Williams, M. "Jazz Heritage " Vol. 4 1999. ISSN 1560-7720. Pages 16-17
L' Art Africain Contemporain (Association Dialogue Entre Les Cultures) 1992-4. ISBN: 2-909711-005. Page 27
Younge, G. Leadership, "The Next Million Years', Vol.7, Issue 5, 1988. NAIL, Johannesburg, p58 - 65


FNB Vita Art Now, 1995, p36. ISBN: 620 20197

2012 All rights reserved. Origination by Di Conradie