Blessing Ngobeni (b. 1985) is a South African contemporary artist whose work is centred on politics and corruption. Ngobeni was born in the Limpopo province and moved to Johannesburg at a young age where he was exposed to the local art scene. He trained in painting and printmaking at the Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg and supported himself by working at David Krut Publishing, and the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
In 2011, Ngobeni was the recipient of the Reinhold Cassirer Award for which he gained great exposure, marking a significant turning point in his career. The award afforded him a 3-month residency at the Bag Factory where he worked alongside the likes of David Koloane, Pat Mautloa and Sam Nhlengethwa. In the years that have followed, Ngobeni has participated in a number of international residencies – in 2015 at the Headlands Centre for Art in San Francisco, and in 2016 he participated in the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program as well as in a graffiti workshop, Grafikama in France.
Ngobeni works in an increasingly broad variety of media but is best known for his works on canvas – typically in acrylic in combination with collage. His tableaus are made up of distorted figures which are often in battle with each other in a sharp critique of South Africa’s elite and the repeated abuses of power the country has suffered.
Ngobeni’s works have been exhibited most prominently between South Africa and the US including at Gallery MOMO and Everard Read, as well as at EXPO Chicago in 2017 and 2018, and PULSE Miami Beach in 2018. In 2020 Ngobeni was selected as the winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Arts. Chaotic Pleasure, his exhibition which followed, was shown at the National Arts Festival, Makhanda, and the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg.
Alongside his work as an artist, Ngobeni also supports and mentors young emerging artists through his programme, The Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize.
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