Nkosinathi Thomas Ngulube was born in 1975 in Barberton, Mpumalanga. He currently works and resides in Cape Town where he started his own gallery, using the space to not only produce his own work, but to provide a platform for young artists. Although he sees himself as a self-taught artist, Ngulube has in fact been associated with several educational institutions such as the Johannesburg Art Foundation and Artists Proof Studios in Newtown, Johannesburg. However, he says that he was born an artist and unable to conform to the boundaries imposed by institutional art education. His natural talent has allowed him to work in several mediums such as sculpture, printmaking and painting.
Ngulube states that his work is subjectively and universally inspired by diversity. He finds much of his inspiration in city life, which he refers to in the following manner: “I stand in the middle of it and observe its crookedness, its beauty, its mysterious people from all over.” Religious gospel stories also serve as inspiration, drawing from his own very deeply rooted spirituality to inform his thinking. His enthusiasm for art and the creative process is contagious and very tangible in his work. His resultant abstract works contain only subtle hints towards the subject matter, with the work’s title often providing the clues.
He has exhibited in several national and international exhibitions, including exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Austria, Australia and New York, as well as producing several public artworks. Most notably, this includes a collaboration with the artist Usha Seejarim for the Freedom Charter project installed at the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto, as well as producing public sculptures for the software company SYSPRO for several of their initiatives including installations at Sun City. Ngulube has also produced sculptural park benches for the City of Johannesburg as part of their public arts programme in Hillbrow and Yeoville.
The hustle and bustle of life in the city inspires Ngulube, he notes; “I stand in the middle of it and observe its crookedness, its beauty, its mysterious people from all over.” One will also find inspiration in his work from religious Gospel stories and in some instances aspects of nature. Ngulube is intrigued by the notion of female qualities, he describes on the elements which inspire, “Her unique strengths, her passion, her masterpiece figure, her patience and her dramatic birth giving experiences which inaugurate, unify and balance the conflicts within my creative space.”