The 42 works created over the past five years by this highly imaginative artist, including sculpture, installation, performance and drawing – which play upon themes of sexuality, South African culture and the private and the political – have been on display since 4 March. The show is drawing 150 visitors every day, according to the curator, Gavin Jantjes. “This is Nicholas’ first museum exhibition in Scandinavia and a wonderful opportunity for everyone who loves contemporary art to see something really new and thought-provoking,” he said of the 35-year-old artist.
“It’s the first exhibition in the museum by an African artist. And it’s in the gallery where Edvard Munch’s The Scream was first displayed, so Nicholas is in excellent company.
“We expect total attendance figures by the close of the exhibition in May to reach between 27,000 and 35,000, which would be a record for the past four years,” the curator added.
The works on display interweave a wide variety of recycled materials including inner tubes of car tyres, cloth, ribbon, thread, latex, silicone and wood. They vary in scale from small hand-size objects to large installations.
Jantjes said that almost all the pieces in the exhibition were already privately owned. “Everything Nicholas touches is quickly taken up by collectors.” Originally from South Africa, Jantjes first saw Hlobo’s work in Cape Town in 2006. “It was certainly the best exhibition I saw that year, and I bought one of the works myself. I’ve been following Nicholas’ development ever since, and each exhibition is better than the last. What’s most striking is that when I try to think of precedents for Nicholas’ creations, there aren’t any. That’s how original he is.”
Jantjes added that as a young artist whose work had already been shown in the Tate Modern and would appear in the next Venice Biennale and Sydney Biennale, Hlobo was clearly “a rising star”.
Hlobo said of the exhibition: “It was thrilling for me to be able to see all the works together, as the last time I saw many of them was when they left my studio. It was a good reminder of what I’ve done and what I need to improve.”
A symposium, a workshop, an educational programme and a major catalogue are being presented to support the exhibition, which continues until 29 May in the first-floor gallery rooms of the National Museum’s Contemporary Art Museum at Bankplassen 4, Oslo. The museum is also looking for opportunities for the exhibition to be shown in other European museums.