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ZWELETHU MTHETHWA  /  April 23, 2009 – May 23, 2009  /

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Installation View, 2009

New Works
April 23 – May 23, 2009
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 23, 6-8 pm
Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present Zwelethu Mthethwa’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery featuring large format photographs from several new series including, Mozambique, Coal Miners, and Contemporary Gladiators.
Mthethwa, whose stunning portraits show black Africans as dignified and defiant, even under the duress of social and economic hardship, is a key figure in the South African photography movement that exploded onto the world stage following Apartheid’s fall in 1994. Working in both urban and rural industrial areas, Mthethwa documents domestic life, labor, the environment, and landscape in South Africa and neighboring countries. His work challenges the conventions of both Western documentary work and African commercial studio photography, marking a transition away from presenting Africa and Africans as the visually exotic and diseased, employing a fresh approach distinguished by his use of scale, color, composition, and his collaboration with his subjects. Drawing from the history of portraiture and photojournalism, Mthethwa’s works often comment on gender roles and raise consciousness around issues related to post-apartheid South African society and globalization.
ZWELETHU MTHETHWA (born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 1960) earned his BFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, a then white’s only university he entered under special ministerial consent. He earned his master’s degree while on a Fulbright Scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology. Mthethwa has had over thirty-five international solo exhibitions and has been featured in numerous group shows, including the 2005 Venice Biennial, Snap Judgments at the International Center of Photography, New York, Africa Remix, the Gwangju Biennale, the 8th Havana Biennial, the Istanbul Biennale, and The Short Century: Independence and Liberation movements in Africa 1945-1994, curated by Okwui Enwezor. Most recently a solo exhibition of his work was on view at Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA, and it was included in a group exhibition as part of Prospect 1 in New Orleans, LA. A forthcoming and long-awaited monograph, Zwelethu Mthethwa, will be published by the Aperture Foundation in November 2009. 
For further information and press photography please contact Jack Shainman Gallery at
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