Jackson Nkumanda

Criticism

My appreciation of the work of Jackson Nkumanda has to do with a number of reasons.
As a sociologist, it immediately occurs to me that Nkumanda’s works do not merely depict something, but actually provide us with social insights. Like an involved witness”, he describes everyday life, the conflicts, the moments of leisure and social life in the townships, the ghettos of South African city outskirts where he was born and grew up. Nkumanda’s works, in other words, express, much better than any phrase, what the townships represented and meant.
The analytical approach — again, so typical of social insights — is accentuated by the perspective employed by Nkumanda. Things are seen in more detail and at the same time with more detachment from above.
The usage of everyday materials, found or available in the context where Nkumanda lives, also helps to evoke the township society. They too say a lot about the life and feelings of these places. In brief, I fully agree with those who have written that, through his creations, Nkumanda becomes a symbol of his people, and expresses their “strength and personality”.
And then there are the colours. Strong, capable of stirring up involvement and emotions. This, besides the social connotations of Nkumanda’s work, seems to be the most relevant and meaningful element of his art production. And it applies to all real artworks: the fact of conveying feelings and sensations.
“Art is the expression of one’s own emotions, aimed at arousing emotions in other people. An artwork is beautiful when it stirs up emotions, brings forth something, when it makes you feel”. That’s what a famed contemporary painter said to me some time ago. The work of Nkumanda aptly fulfils these requirements.

Prof. Renato Mannheimer

[Dal catalogo di Jackson Nkumanda "Recent Works" 2005]