Nandipha Mntambo

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Nandipha Mntambo (born 1982) is a South African artist who has become famous for her sculptures, videos and photographs[1] that focus on human female body and identity by using natural, organic materials.


Nandipha Mntambo was born in Swaziland, Southern Africa, in 1982. She graduated with a master's degree in Fine Art (with distinction) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in June 2007.[2] She lives and works in South Africa.

Work philosophy[edit]

In her work, Mntambo focuses on the human body and the organic nature of identity, using mainly natural materials and experimenting with sculptures, videos and photography. One of her favourite materials to use in her pieces is the skin of the cow, often also used as a covering for human bodies – boneless sculptures – and thus oscillating between evoking the garments that can be shod at will and the bodies that once contained living, breathing, masticating beings with four stomachs. Mntambo embraces this ambiguity and likes to play with the tension between the sightly and the unsightly by manipulating how her viewers negotiate the two aspects of the hide.[3] She uses her own body as the mould for these sculptures and does not intend to make an explicit statement regarding femininity. Rather, Mntambo uses these hides to explore the division between animals and humans, as well as the divide between attraction and repulsion.[4]

She states:

"My intention is to explore the physical and tactile properties of hide and aspects of control that allow or prevent me from manipulating this material in the context of the female body and contemporary art. I have used cowhide as a means to subvert expected associations with corporeal presence, femininity, sexuality and vulnerability. The work I create seeks to challenge and subvert preconceptions regarding representation of the female body."[5]

"Themes of confrontation, protection and refuge play out particularly in relation to inner conflicts and to notions of self-love/hatred. The bronze, Sengifikile, uses my own features as a foundation, but takes on the guise of a bull. Referencing the head-and-shoulder busts of the Renaissance tradition I challenge male and female roles in society and expected associations with femininity, sexuality and vulnerability."[6]


Solo exhibitions (selection)[edit]

  • 2014 Transience, Stevenson, Johannesburg
  • 2013 Nandipha Mntambo, Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
  • 2013 Nandipha Mntambo, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2012 Faena, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg; University of Potchefstroom Art Gallery, Potchefstroom
  • 2012 The Unspoken, Stevenson, Cape Town
  • 2011 Faena, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2009 Umphatsi Wemphi, Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg
  • 2009 The Encounter, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town
  • 2007 Ingabisa, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town
  • 2007 Locating me in order to see you (Master's exhibition), Michaelis Gallery, Cape Town

Group exhibitions (selection)[edit]

  • 2014 Performance Now, Queensland University of Technology Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2014 Chroma, Stevenson, Cape Town
  • 2014 The Danjuma Collection: One Man's Trash (Is Another Man's Treasure), 33 Fitzroy Square, London
  • 2014 From Sitting to Selfie: 300 Years of South African Portraits, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2014 The Divine Comedy. Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists -Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/Main
  • 2013 A Sculptural Premise, Stevenson, Cape Town
  • 2013 My Joburg, La Maison Rouge, Paris; Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany
  • 2013 Female Power: Matriarchy, Spirituality and Utopia, Arnhem Museum, Arnhem, The Netherlands
  • 2012 The Rainbow Nation, Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • 2012 3rd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow
  • 2012 Viewpoint: A Closer Look at Showing, Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
  • 2012 Mine – A selection of films by SA artists, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, Dubai
  • 2011 ARS 11, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki
  • 2011 Contemporary South African Artists, Turner Galleries, Perth, Australia
  • 2011 Mine – A selection of films by SA artists, Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2010 Peekaboo: Current South Africa, Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki
  • 2010 Ampersand, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin
  • 2010 The Beauty of Distance: Songs of survival in a precarious age, 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia
  • 2010 SPace: Currencies in contemporary African art, Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg
  • 2010 Dak'Art, 9th Dakar Biennale, Senegal
  • 2010 Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African art, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales
  • 2010 The Good Old Days, Aarhus Art Building, Denmark
  • 2010 Hautnah: Hair in art and culture, Kunstverein Leonberg, Germany
  • 2010 Toros! Works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, Galerie Sophie Scheidecker, Paris
  • 2010 She Devil, Studio Stefania Miscetti, Rome
  • 2009 Hautnah: Hair in art and culture, Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany
  • 2009 Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography, Bamako, Mali
  • 2009 Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African art, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham, UK
  • 2009 La modernité dans l'art africain d'aujourd'hui, Panafrican Cultural Festival of Algiers
  • 2009 Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA
  • 2009 Works from the 2008 Dak'art biennale, ifa gallery, Berlin and Stuttgart
  • 2009 Number Two: Fragile, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf
  • 2009 Why not?, Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin
  • 2009 Beauty and Pleasure in South African Contemporary Art, The Stenersen Museum, Oslo
  • 2008 Disguise, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2008 Dak'art, Dakar Biennale, Senegal
  • 2008 Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
  • 2008 Skin-to-skin: Challenging textile art, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2008 .za: giovane arte dal Sudafrica, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena
  • 2008 The Trickster at ArtExtra, Johannesburg
  • 2007 Summer 2007/8, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town
  • 2007 Apartheid: The South African Mirror, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
  • 2007 Afterlife, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2006 Olivida quien soy – Erase me from who I am, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas
  • 2006 MTN New Contemporaries, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2006 Second to None, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2005 In the Making: Materials and Process, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town
  • 2001/2 Curated the Parliamentary Millennium Project (PMP)


  • 2014 Shortlisted for the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (Canada)
  • 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art
  • 2010 Wits/BHP Billiton Fellowship
  • 2005 Curatorial Fellowship, Brett Kebble Art Awards
  • 2003/4 Mellon Meyers Fellowship, Michaelis School of Fine Art


  • Mntambo, Nandipha. Nandipha Mntambo – Locating me in order to see you. University of Cape Town, 2007.
  • Mntambo, Nandipha, und Sophie Perryer. Nandipha Mntambo: Ingabisa, 16 August–15 September 2007. Michael Stevenson, 2007.
  • Mntambo, Nandipha, Sophie Perryer, and Michael Stevenson Gallery. The Encounter. Michael Stevenson, 2009.


  1. ^ "Nandipha Mntambo doesn't take any bull". Independent Online (South Africa). 9 December 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  2. ^ STEVENSON. "STEVENSON". STEVENSON. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  3. ^ "A R T T H R O B _ A R T B I O". Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Nandipha Mntambo: In Her Skin". Installation Magazine. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  5. ^ Catalogue statement for Ingabisa at Michael Stevenson 2007.
  6. ^ "Biennale de l'Art Africain Contemporain". (in French). Retrieved 3 January 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]