Nompumelelo Ngoma

Studio Artist: 

Nompumelelo Ngoma was born in 1984 Soweto, Dlamini. She currently resides in Soweto, Jabulani. She studied fine art at the South West Gauteng College and finished an N4 course in 2004. In 2006 she worked at the Standard bank Gallery as a tour guide for the Picasso and Walter Battiss Exhibitions. She later enrolled at Artist Proof Studio and finished a three year course in Printmaking. In 2008 she was awarded an award by Linda Givon then of Goodman Gallery. She furthered her studies in Fine Art at the University of Johannesburg from 2009-2011 and she graduated for her National Diploma in Fine Art. She is currently enrolled as a Post Graduate student for B-Tech Fine Art at the University of Johannesburg, where she assists with the Artist Proof and Johannesburg Gallery retrospective exhibition.

My work interrogates the custom of Lobola which is involved in African traditional marriages. In my paintings I explore Issues of femininity, identity and gender, as I question the notion of domesticity and vulnerability within the context of African tradition. These issues propel me to locate who I am and where I fit in a westernised society as a woman confronted by the reality of an African tradition The feminist aspects such as subservience and the gaze come into play as I attempt to unpack the underlying issues that resonate within the culture of give and take; lobola to be precise. The prominent subject matter in my work is the bride and the cow which is the bride price. The bride price is depicted in either as hanging meat carcass, skulls or the head of cow. I thus begin to formulate a relationship between the bride and the cow. The traditional framework of marriage therefore becomes a space of fear and unease that the protagonist bride enters.

In my paintings I become the protagonist bride that is confronted with the mentioned issues. In my paintings I use my self-portrait as a subject, which thus becomes an object subjected to these underlying issues. I use my self-portrait as a point of reference for my source material where I undergo the process of embodying certain characters.

Playing with the idea of the gaze, in my paintings I am either boldly present or shying away from the viewer’s gaze. The reason why I include the idea of the gaze in my paintings is that I aim to explore and subvert the notion of being perceived as an object of men’s desire as it constitutes subservience.

In my work I find myself striving to embrace these cultural values but it becomes difficult because of how these values subsequently perceive black women’s identity as inferior. I therefore find myself caught up between traditional, culture and my values, and the influences of hybridity given the fact that I can negotiate my identity as a woman.

The idea of a white gown is a statement on the western ideals which the African culture borrows from, and also the conflict that resonates with the idea of embracing culture in a westernised society.

  • Nompumelelo Ngoma
  • Nompumelelo Ngoma