Nandipha Mntambo is a Johannesburg-based visual artist. Born in Mbabane, Swaziland, South Africa in 1982, Mntambo received her MFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 2007.
Her diverse practice explores natural materials as well as experimental approaches to art-making to investigate the relationship between the human body and fluidity of identity, with an emphasis on the boundaries between human and animal, femininity and masculinity, attraction and repulsion, as well as life and death.
Among Mntambo’s most celebrated artworks are her series of cascading and loosely figurative sculptures, molded from cowhide into semi-abstracted shapes suggestive of a human presence. Mntambo elaborates: “My intention is to explore the physical and tactile properties of hide and spects of control that allow or prevent me from manipulating this material in the context of the female body and contemporary art. I have used cowhide as a means to subvert expected associations with corporeal presence, femininity, sexuality and vulnerability. The work I create seeks to challenge and subvert preconceptions regarding representation of the female body.”
A solo-exhibition of her work inaugurated the Zeitz MoCAA in Cape Town in 2017, and her work has been included in a number of prestigious group-shows and biennales in venues such as The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2021), The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2019), University of Michigan Museum of Art (2018), Metropolis Afrique Capitales at La Villette Paris (2017), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2017), The Brooklyn Museum (2016), The Dakar Biennale (2008, 2010, 2016), The Seattle Art Museum (2015) and The Pavilion of South Africa at the Venice Biennale (2015).
Shortlisted for the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize in Canada (2014), she also was a Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2013), received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art (2011) and the Wits/BHP Billiton Fellowship (2010).
Mntambo’s work is included in the following collections: Jean Pigozzi Collection of African Art, Geneva; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; Seattle Art Museum, WA; and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, The 21c Museum, Louisville, KY; The High Museum of Art – Atlanta, GA; The National Public Art Council, Stockholm, Sweden.