Stephan Welz & Co. has had the privilege of being part of the “artists’ journey” for many years. The last two years have been slightly different though – most assuredly due to the changing nature of the world as we once knew it.

A different, much-needed, energized artist offering has imbued Stephan Welz and Co’s latest auction collections The works of Bambo Sibiya, Blessing Ngobeni, and Nelson Makamo have acted as a reprieve from the dismay that has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. As South Africans, we are particularly fortunate to have these artists and their works to act as our anchors – speaking directly to our moment, they act as both snapshot and promise. A snapshot of the epoch, and a promise that we might just make it through the unsettling times.

Bambo Sibiya (South African 1986 – ): Together We Can, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 82 by 114 cm excluding frame; 103b y 134 by 5cm W W


Blessing Ngobeni’s oeuvre functions as a snapshot. Ngobeni’s works are situated between the political and the personal and avidly express the many intersections between systems of power and lived experience. “The anger, the happiness, the love, the struggle of the political landscape in Africa… are fused in one thing” (Blessing
Ngobeni in Wood 2020: [sp]). These sentiments are crucial to the understanding of our current socio-cultural cipher, they provide a visual clarification of what we can no longer make sense of, or of what we are no longer able to express. Material Enslavement speaks to the unaltered oppressive systems characteristic of the late Capitalist period, while also addressing the stagnant ‘change’ promised by the post-Apartheid era. These systemic issues, now even more glaringly evident in our current moment, posits Material Enslavement as essential ‘visual reading’ for our country and our time.

Blessing Ngobeni (South African 1985 – ) Material Enslavement 2014, the mixed media on canvas, 139,5 by 100 cm


Bambo Sibiya’s works are permeated with the idea of ‘Ubuntu Ngabantu’, a Zulu term translating roughly to ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’ – and functions as promise. Much of his work considers the mining industry in Johannesburg during the Apartheid era and the men and women that populated these spaces of hardship. Memories of a Swenka examines the cultural phenomenon of the ‘Swenka’ that arose amidst the toil of the every day.
“[T]he Swenkas are South African workers who have found a unique way to channel their self-respect, their creativity, and their hope in the future” (Bonhams Bond Street [sa]:[sp]) through the use of clothing and styling which were expressions of much-needed dignity.

Sibya’s Together We Can is a poignant reflection of promise. The work requires us to pause and reflect, to realise that we still continue as one. The work draws on a distinctly South African visual trope as if speaking directly to those that already innately recognise it. In this way, the work offers itself up to that populous as a silent promise that we will continue.



Nelson Makamo’s work functions as both snapshot and promise. His immediately recognisable figures, be-speckled, and joyfull, gently entice the viewer to feel. To emote the ordinary, the mundane, the small delights, the moments that make up a human life.
Brilliantly summed up by Ashraf Jamal (Art Times 2021:15), “…if the works possess a deep structure of feeling, it is because they are life-affirming…”, however, Jamal continues by adding that “…this affective joy…can be mistaken for a placebo, as real yet not –largely because of the way in which Makamo has been constructed as a sentimental artist”.

Keeping these differing ideas in mind, Makamo still consistently establishes a joyful romance in his work, while not denying the inhumanity of a post-Apartheid South Africa. In this sense, his works are thus able to function as both snapshot and promise. Not denying the trauma experienced by the black body, the grinding nature of day-to-day survival (specifically in our current time), and not disabusing us of our lived experience. He presents this truth through his subject matter, and (re)- presents it through his delivery. Makamo’s ability to find compassion and dignity in his subjects offers us a sense of courage. A snapshot of reality and the promise of a route back to our humanity.

Nelson Makamo (South African 1982 – ): Portrait With Glasses 2020, mixed media on paper, 99 by 71 cm excluding frame; 114,5 by 86,5 by 3,5 cm

Stephan Welz and Co. is looking forward to the ongoing journey with these artists, discovering and developing with them. We are excited to continue showcasing their works and expanding our auction offerings.

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