6th Mar, 2024 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

  Lot 48
Lot 48 - Serge Alain Nitegeka  (Rwanda 1983-)


Serge Alain Nitegeka (Rwanda 1983-)
Black Subjects V: "...and walk in my shoes."

oil on four South African pine panels

Artwork date: 2012
Exhibited: Stevenson, Johannesburg, 'Black Lines', 1 to 30 March 2012.
Literature: Perryer, S (ed.). (2012). 'Serge Alain Nittegeka: Black Subject\s'. Johannesburg: Stevenson, illustrated in colour on pp.54 & 55.

Sold for R686,250
Estimated at R600,000 - R800,000


oil on four South African pine panels

Artwork date: 2012
Exhibited: Stevenson, Johannesburg, 'Black Lines', 1 to 30 March 2012.
Literature: Perryer, S (ed.). (2012). 'Serge Alain Nittegeka: Black Subject\s'. Johannesburg: Stevenson, illustrated in colour on pp.54 & 55.


245 x 122 x 5.5 cm each


Private collection, Cape Town.

Stevenson, Johannesburg.


Serge Alain Nitegeka’s contemporary abstractions, like the monumental Black Subjects V: "...and walk in my shoes." (2012), appear as larger-than-life formalist studies of line, space and perspective. In this example, the colours are primary and flat, the forms are hard-edged, and the painted surface is intercut with exposed strips of chipboard or plywood. Here, the overall structure is composed of bold linear forms, with white rectangular planes, a dash of red shapes with visible areas of raw wood. Although the work does not directly represent a body, embodiment is implied.

Nitegeka’s paintings, writer Betina Malcomess states, should “be read in relation to the artist’s sculptural installations with wood. Here, Nitegeka’s language draws on minimalism and abstraction to create complex, labyrinthine constructions of rectilinear beams that occupy gallery spaces [like the installation Obstacle 1, constructed in Black Lines at Stevenson in Cape Town in 2012], transforming the viewer’s movement into a complex journey.”[1]

Influenced by his early encounters and exposure as a refugee, “the journeys Nitegeka’s work references are those of displacement, dislocation and forced migration, anchored in his own lived experience – the artist’s family fled war-torn Burundi and then Rwanda when he was a child.”[2] These installations present obstacles that promote physical participation in this metaphoric experience.

Black Subjects V: “…and walk in my shoes." can be interpreted as a study for an installation or a work that positions the viewer outside of an abstracted field of vision which they cannot easily enter – “each line a border that radically dislocates our viewing, a metaphor for the precarity that haunts the work's minimalist beauty.”[3]

This work is impressive in scale, and its compositional structure is highly sophisticated and complex. Nitegeka's acute, formal aesthetic sense places him within the rich art historical cadre of minimalism and abstraction, while the larger concepts he tackles resonate with current global politics.

Marelize van Zyl

[1] Malcomess, B. (2022). Serge Alain Nitegeka: Obstacle 1; Studio study III in Aspire Art, The Present Future: A Private Collection of African & International Contemporary Art (auction catalogue), Johannesburg, 22 June 2022. p.24

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Serge Alain Nitegeka, Obstacle I 2012


  • Serge Alain Nitegeka recently formed part of Between Borders, a group exhibition at Museum Arnhem and Africa Supernova, at Kunsthal KAde, Amersfoort, both in the Netherlands in 2023.
  • In 2021, the artist was included in the exhibition Ubuntu, A Lucid Dream at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France.
  • Nitegeka exhibited in What remains is tomorrow for the South African Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. In 2013, a year after his Black Lines solo exhibition in Cape Town, he presented works in My Joburg at La Maison Rouge in Paris.


The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably the 21c Hotel Museum, Bentonville; Albright Knox Museum, New York; Jewish Museum, New York; Newark Museum, Newark; Norton Museum of Art, Florida; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Nova Southeastern University Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale and The Studio Museum; New York.

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