Sam Nhlengethwa draws inspiration from jazz in his latest international exhibition

Sam Nhlengethwa, The Blues Singer, 2021.
Sam Nhlengethwa, The Blues Singer, 2021.
Image: Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, Cape Town, London

It’s the perfect setting for a Sam Nhlengethwa fan: admiring some of his works while picking out one of his favourite vinyls to listen to – perhaps a lively a jazz number to accompany the works presented in his exhibition Jazz and Blues at Night.

If you find yourself in London later this month, this is exactly what you can expect on a visit to the Goodman Gallery where Nhlengethwa will be showcasing his first solo exhibition in London.

The series of mixed media drawings, paintings, prints and tapestries are a tribute of sorts to the musicians that have inspired the artist throughout his career.

Nhlengethwa says he doesn’t spend a day in his studio without listening to jazz in the background. “My life belongs to the jazz,” says the artist who has more than 4,000 vinyls in his music collection. “I don't think I could be who I am, what I'm doing in the art world, if there was no jazz. It is my daily inspiration.

This inspiration can be traced back to Nhlengethwa’s formative years listening to jazz – from the classic Miles Davis numbers to the experimental tracks of Sua Ra – with his two older brothers.

While Nhlengethwa is no stranger to international audiences or Biennials, Jazz and Blues at Night will be his latest international exhibition focused around the theme of jazz; a survey of his work titled “Life, Jazz and Lots of Other Things” was exhibited in the SCAD Museum of Art and the Carter Center in Georgia in the US in 2014.

  • Jazz and Blues at Night opens at the Goodman Gallery London on August 12 and will run until September 18 2021.