Sthenjwa Luthuli


Sthenjwa Luthuli (b. 1991, Bothas Hill, KwaZulu-Natal) is a South African artist working primarily in carved wooden reliefs and woodcut prints. The intricate and complex nature of Luthuli’s artistic process ensures that each work he produces is a remarkable and singular result of a formidable artistic effort. Each work is meticulously hand carved and then painted, taking months to create. Sthenjwa’s preferred medium is a 12mm MDF Supawood block which he carves into using a chisel and mallet. The result is a hybrid art-object, a bare wooden, sculptural canvas which is then hand painted.


In his work Luthuli depicts what he refers to as the ‘unknown space’; a dream like state of mind that represents a threshold to an infinite expanse where ancestors and living descendants meet and commune. The harmonious state depicted by the artist exists between tension and balance, the past and present, traditionalism and modernity.

Materially, Luthuli’s works share an affinity with the rich artistic history of his region; specifically the legacy of the Rorke’s Drift school and linocut, woodcut, and etching artists such as John Muafangejo, Dan Rakgoathe, Sam Nhlengethwa and Cyprian Shilakoe.

Luthuli’s works, however, still read as undeniably contemporary with influences ranging from Wangechi Mutu to Yinka Shonibare. The electric draw of his painted reliefs rest in the joy and freedom they exude. They represent Luthuli’s placement of himself within a collective history and consciousness: A sense of belonging amidst an ever-changing contemporary landscape.

Luthuli held his ambitious first solo exhibition, Inkaba Yami, in 2020 with WHATIFTHEWORLD in Cape Town. In 2022 Luthuli presented Umthente Uhlaba Usamila, a solo exhibition of woodblock prints with BKhz Gallery in Johannesburg, Infumbatho, an impressive solo exhibition of carved woodblocks with Unit Gallery in London as well as Imbewu Yokhokho (translated as The Seeds of the Ancestors ) at 1957 Gallery Ghana. His work has been exhibited widely at Art Fairs such as Investec Cape town Art Fair,  FNB Art Joburg, and Latitudes and Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg, South Africa as well as AAF Lagos, Nigeria, Untitled Miami and Expo Chicago.

Luthuli’s work forms part of public collections including the Leiterin der stadtischen Galerie in Bremen, Germany, Standard Bank, Johannesburg, National Art Bank, Bloemfontein, Sasol, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Significant private collections include American collectors Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz’s Dean Collection, Gatreaux Collection, Kansas City, USA, the Judith Greenblatt Collection, New York, and the Homestead Collection, Cape Town.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2022 Imbewu Yokhokho (The Seed of Our Ancestors), Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana
2021 Imfumbatho, Unit London
Umthente Uhlaba Usamila, BKhz, Johannesburg
2020 Inkaba Yami - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 40 Under 40, WHATIFTHEWORLD X KRONE, Tulbagh
RESTUDIO, Cunningham Contemporary, Johannesburg
2020 The Medium Is The Message, Unit Gallery, London
2018 Forward Forward, Stellenbosch University Museum, Stellenbosch
2017 Sasol New Signatures, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
Ukushintsha Isigcawu, Woordfees Festival, Stellenbosch
Members Exhibition, KZNSA Gallery, Durban
2015  New Printmakers, SA Print Gallery, Cape Town 
Emerging, Design Indaba Simulcast, Cape Town 
Izimpande, KZNSA Gallery, Durban 

Art Fairs

Cape Town Art Fair 2024
Art Cologne 2023
FNB Art Joburg 2023
Cape Town Art Fair 2023
Untitled Miami Beach 2022
1-54 London 2022
Joburg Art Fair 2022
Expo Chicago 2022
Cape Town Art Fair 2022
Untitled Art Miami Beach 2021

Permanent Collections

National Art Bank, Public Collection
Sasol, Public Collection
University of Pretoria, Public Collection
FNB, Public Collection
Nandos, Public Collection
Metropolitan, Private  Collection
Phansi Museum, Private  Collection
Gatreaux Collection
Norval Foundation, Cape Town
Leiterin der Stadischen Galerie, Bremen, Germany, Private Collection
Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein, Public Collection
Homestead Collection, Cape Town, Private Collection
Judith Greenblatt, Private Collection
Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz, Private Collection
Standard Bank, Private Collection