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Nicholas Hlobo

Galerie Pfriem

Although some might think of the works in his new series as assemblages, Nicholas Hlobo refers to them as “Paintings” because he creates each piece on a stark white canvas. He begins by using a box cutter to slash the canvas—what he calls a “harsh approach to bring in new elements, change things, a painful process.” This trenchant action cannot be reversed. Hlobo then binds materials such as tire rubber and ribbons to the canvas by stitching, adding texture through puckering and embroidering. As he experiments with these materials rife with symbolism related to the culture of postapartheid South Africa, meanings proliferate. Rubber, for instance, represents masculinity, urbanization, and the male status symbol of car ownership, as well as alluding to condoms and thus the fight against the aids epidemic. In contrast, Hlobo elegantly weaves and embroiders using satin ribbons, suggesting

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