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Sthenjwa Luthuli’s second solo exhibition with Unit London Honours his ancestral South African roots 

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Unit London announces Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun, a new solo show with one of South Africa’s young emerging artists, Sthenjwa Luthuli, opening July 25th. Inspired by African history and culture, Luthuli’s second solo exhibition with Unit London explores ancestral connections and ancient traditions,incorporating sculpture into his practice for the first time. The exhibition takes its name from Inzalo Ye Langa, or Birthplace of the Sun, the African name for a series of stones believed to be the oldest manmade structure in the world. 

Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun presents a series of Luthuli’s meticulously hand carved and painted pieces. Each artwork is inspired by African history, harking back to Black ancestral traditions. The circular patterns of colour in each artwork are inspired by traditional healing methods. African healers often use colourful beads in their process, using different colour formations to treat different issues and chase away bad spirits. Luthuli feels that many younger generations in Africa have grown distant from their ancient heritage as a result of colonisation and an education that places an emphasis on Western history and culture. 

Image courtesy of Unit London

Working with the carving technique he has been building throughout his career, Luthuli considered how to recycle the waste from his wood carved artworks. Using leftover sawdust as a sculptural material, he mixes the sawdust with wood glue to produce a texture similar to clay, using the material to create three dimensional figures. Similar to his meticulous and painstaking carving process, Luthuli’s sculptural practice is thorough, taking six months for each sculpture to dry. 

In reference to important ancient traditions from his heritage, Luthuli uses headless figures to represent the missing names and identities of the artist’s forebears, lost to time. These headless figures also symbolise Luthuli’s strong belief in the human spirit. In ancient African birth rites, elders recognise the reincarnation of past generations in new-born babies, reflecting the cycle of life and spirit. Influenced by these traditions, Luthuli aims to convey how spirits pass on from one generation to the next. Through these headless forms, the artist represents the essence of a person before they become flesh and blood. 

Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun will be on view in Unit London until August 24th. Luthuli will also be participating in Africa Inspires at the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, Netherlands (2023). Follow @unitlondon on Instagram for event and programming updates throughout the show.

About the Artist 

Sthenjwa Luthuli (b.1991, Bothas Hill, KwaZulu-Natal) is a South Africa artist working primarily in carved wooden reliefs and woodcut prints. In 2010 he joined the BAT Centre for Visual Art. The classes there familiarised him with the art industry and encouraged him to further explore and develop his creativity. He creates highly intricate, meditative work by carving detailed patterns into wood blocks. Sthenjwa’s artwork is a refashioning of the sculptural language developed by African modernists like Jackson Hlungwani, Noria Mabasa, Nelson Mukhuba, Dr Phutuma Seoka, Johannes Maswanganyi, Johannes Segogela and others. 

Recent solo exhibitions include: Imbewu Yokhokho (The Seed of Our Ancestors), Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana (2022); Imfumbatho, Unit London, London, UK (2021) and Umthente Uhlaba Usamila, BKhz Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2021). 

Selected group exhibitions include: 1-54 Art Fair, Unit London, London, UK (2022); Untitled Art fair, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Miami, Florida, USA (2021); Liminality In Infinite Space, Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Nigeria (2021) and BLACK VOICES: Friend of My Mind, Ross-Sutton Gallery, New York, USA (2021). 

About Unit London 

Established in September 2013, Unit London is a global artistic platform for international artists. Unit London has successfully launched and advanced the careers of numerous contemporary artists and remains firmly committed to its driving principles of equity, innovation, and accessibility. The gallery is forthright in its dedication to being an open and transparent institution at the forefront of an expanding and diversifying art industry. Unit London has become synonymous with a pioneering use of social media and digital content – bridging the gap between the physical and virtual spheres of modern experience and connecting people with the art they love. 

From day one, the gallery has embraced change and resisted conformity. In a too-often opaque and inequitable art market, we seek to identify and cultivate artists on a purely meritocratic basis. As a result, our programme is diverse and non-linear. Our vision is for Unit London to be more than just a gallery, but an artistic platform to empower the most gifted creative minds of our generation. We feel a strong sense of duty to articulate their stories to an ever-growing international audience, and to magnify their impact for individuals, cultures, and societies around the globe. We are proud to have launched and advanced the careers of important contemporary artists whose work provokes, challenges, and inspires, and we are passionate about bringing their work to the public consciousness.

For more information about the exhibition, please click here.


UK | Richelle Zakrzewski | 

International | Send/Receive | Bernice delos Reyes |

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