23 Oct – 19 Nov.
AITY Gallery Franschhoek




Thembalethu Manqunyana has exhibited across three continents and has had an overwhelming response both locally and internationally. His charm not only stems from his tangible playful depiction of personas, a trend seen in contemporary art but from his superb translation of previous masters. This achievement is always completed with the lightness of suggestion and always within his own artistic parameters, never touching on previously passed footprints. Thembalethu’s audiences and collectors’ greatest fascination is born from both this delicate balance of his own narrative and that of others universally and the balance between European art theory and African art depictions. There is a parallel strand of thought, which at times is so strong, it banishes the singularity to create unity.

Ethnic Assemblage is Thembalethu Manqunyana first exhibition with AITY Gallery. With this showing, he seeks to explore and acknowledge artistic and personal growth in public platforms infiltrated by unacknowledged audiences; voyeurs outside of ethnic idioms.

The personal part of this exhibit is marked by a distinct background of IsiXhosa culture on the apparent patriarchal doppelgänger; between identities that purport to signify margins of being a boy and man. Or being an art student in Gqeberha who continues to develop an expression in Cape Town without a fixed voice from a particular mentor, this being saved for the streets, observations, and random dialogues.

The artist’s work is consistent in inconsistent documentation of the individual and the plural gradually creating a subject matter that consists of groupings rather than a fixed traditional understanding of portrait images. The technique of layering shapes and colours allows for the portraits themselves to suggest groupings. The creation of one by many and again by many to create one.

This visual dialogue is carried out by means of fragmented and assembled images to mark the growth where before he had defined his work as free form, dominated by continuous lines. Here the aesthetic is dominated by a two-dimensional buildup of shape and colours and the depiction of the essence of characters is predominant. The artist proposes a departure from established identities, the relationship between the historical and present made possible by his submersion in modern culture whilst still representing healthy respect for tradition.

Thembalethu states; “although I am still influenced by what other artists do, I am quite aware of my contributions to all that. Hoping to be observed, listened to, and influence growth toward a particular way of art making. The stimulation of my creative development and core interpretation of the work lies with the observer.”

AITY Gallery greets this collaboration enthusiastically as the artist is a true pioneer and altruistic. We hope to create a unique and quintessential contemporary experience. The deliberate and constituent positioning and study of opposites in theory and aesthetic, Thembalethu boldly aims to seek the essence of one and the irradiation of plurality.




(Detail diptich) Conversation with the Queen II, acrylic, charcoal, gold leaf and pastel, 102 x 88cm


The Queen, acrylic, charcoal, gold leaf and pastel, 130cm 100cm, 2022


(Detail diptich) Conversation with the Queen II, acrylic, charcoal, gold leaf and pastel, 102 x 88cm


African Voice’s, acrylic, charcoal, gold leaf and pastel, 130cm 100cm, 2022

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