Peter Clarke (1929 - )
Sam Nhlengethwa

mixed media
50 x 35cm

Sam Nhlengethwa was among the artists invited by Bill Ainslie (Director
of the Arts Foundation, JHB) to attend the USSALEP (United States - South Africa
Leader Exchange Program) workshop that took place at Hunter's Rest, Rustenberg
in 1992. He & I met there & became good friends.
There was a leisurely moment when he said, "Peter, I want to show you something."
He took out photographs of collages done recently. "I like these," I said. "But
stylewise they remind me a bit of the American artist Romare Bearden." Sam
admitted that he admired Bearden's work a lot.
After the Rustenberg workshop ended from time to time Sam & I kept in touch.
Subsequently he sent me more photographs of recent collages. I was delighted
to see these images of new work & in my reply to him I told him so. "These collages
don't look like Beardens anymore," I commented. "They look like Nhlengetha's."
Artists are often inspired by & learn from each other, even if indirectly & unintentionally
so at times. Ocassionally there is bound to be an influence. This can't be
helped. Isn't that the interesting thing about all of the arts, the way a creative
person says something, often to nobody in particular? With Sam, as with Bearden,
often inspired by jazz, there is the cutting, tearing & assembling of bits & pieces
of different kinds of paper to make a statement. Yet, amazingly, with what
permanence the statement stays behind in the memory of others.

2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.