national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


(Work by Bambo Sibiya)

The French cultural network of Alliances Française in Southern Africa, together with ABSA L'Atelier Art Competition, in collaboration with Alliance Française de Durban and artSPACE Durban, will present Umlambo Uzizwa nge Dondolo, an intriguing solo exhibition presented by Bambo Sibiya, the winner of the prestigious 2011 Gerard Sekoto prize.

Umlambo Uzizwa nge Dondolo - a traditional isiZulu expression literally meaning “to test the waters, in the hopes of deciphering someone or something’s character” - is an exploration of the various aspects of township life, with particular emphasis on single-parent households and the position of men within these households. Within this discourse, Sibiya explores the lifestyle of migrant labourers who had left their families and moved to Johannesburg at the peak of Apartheid, in the hopes of finding work.

Sibiya’s visual and conceptual compositions are influenced by the characters which have become an impressionable part of his experiences being one of three children raised by a single mother in KwaThema Township, just outside of Johannesburg. In his works, Sibiya captures women’s eternal fight for finding ways of feeding, nurturing, and protecting their children and families. In the series of children’s faces, Sibiya invites us to celebrate the beauty and promise that children hold for the world, but never forgetting to make the viewer aware of the responsibility that one holds in shaping the future of South Africa. Sibiya further pays homage to the township men who he and his siblings were surrounded by during childhood. Amongst these men, were migrant workers referred to as omuSwenka (the swenkas) who would regularly take part in amateur fashion shows to flaunt their immaculate fashion sense and cheeky attitude.

Rich stylistic detail and textures mark Bambo Sibiya’s linocuts and drypoint works, which seem to give insight into masculine identity and community on the streets of Johannesburg. Sibiya has found inspiration in the social realists – Hogarth’s social allegories, Goya’s Disasters of War and Diane Victor’s Disasters of Peace – and has been strongly engaged with the theme of poverty in his local community, including the role of single mothers as heads of their households. In his current work Sibiya has shifted his focus to the lifestyle that developed around migrant communities.

Sibiya has performed extremely well in South African art competitions in recent years: in 2012 he was a finalist in the ABSA L’Atelier top ten awards, and the winner of the prestigious Gerard Sekoto Award, which granted a three month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2013. Working at the APS Gallery, he has also worked on the large scale linocuts of several leading artists such as William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Norman Catherine and Colbert Mashile.

There will be a Walkabout with the Bambo Sibiya today (Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 12 noon). The exhibition runs until August 1, 2015, at artSPACE durban. artSPACE durban is situated at 3 Millar Road (off Umgeni Road) close to the Waste Centre. More information on 031 312 0793 or visit or