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Click Learning Art Lot

Intimacy, 2021
Acrylic on stretched canvas
76cm x 51cm

Tribute to African Portraiture, 2021 
Mixed media on canvas
167 × 150 cm  


This lot is donated by Art power couple Blessing Ngobeni and Teresa Kutala Firmino in conjunction with Ellerman House for the benefit of Click Learning.  

“Artists Teresa Kutala Firmino and Blessing Ngobeni are a rising South African art-world power duo. Ngobeni, who has earned acclaim for his monumental, politically charged layered canvases, received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for the Visual Arts in 2020 and shows at galleries including Everard Read in South Africa and Jenkins Johnson in San Francisco and New York. Kutala Firmino, part of the art collective Kutala Chopeto as well as a solo artist, will received her first London show at Everard Read this month. Both significant cultural figures in their hometown of Johannesburg, where they share a studio, this year their impact will be appreciated further afield.”, Emma Crichton-Miller, March 31  

 About Blessing Ngobeni 

Blessing Ngobeni is a fine artist who creates abstract works of art with a variety of different objects. His artworks are a commentary on themes such as self-enrichment and the abuse of power. 

Blessing has overcome many odds and persevered to be where he is today. From a young age, it seemed as if life was against him, yet he found a way to become a success. He has won many awards and accolades in the art world and many consider him to be one of the best contemporary artists in South Africa. 

His early life was difficult, beginning with his parents splitting up when he was very young. When he was five, his mother sent him to go stay with his uncle, who made him herd cattle instead of attending school. Blessing was physically abused, and, feeling isolated and alone, decided he was better off on his own at age six. He then ran away and lived in the bush, where he lived in solitude for around five years. His mother eventually found him, but, he still didn’t feel at home. 

As a ten-year-old, he left his home and made his way to Alexandra in Johannesburg. Soon after, he fell in with a bad crowd and became involved in crime. Within five years after that, he got arrested for robbery and was behind bars for close to six years. While in prison, Ngobeni took stock of his life and took steps to change his life. He started studying his matric and got exposed to the Tsoga (Wake Up) Arts Project. He then began to love art and he began to pursue his art on a serious level, with impressive results. 

It is of importance to note that Ngobeni is an artist focusing on more than his own evolving career. His efforts in mentoring young artists have led him to create the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize that is aimed at assisting young and emerging visual artists to launch their careers.  He is also a regular donor to Click Learning through the ArtAngels Auction. This empowering work attests to Ngobeni’s personal and professional contribution to the art world and society at large. 

About Teresa Firmino 

Teresa Firmino is a Johannesburg-based artist, whose work examines the construction of dominant histories and the absences they present. Firmino delves into the role of memory as the main repository of information for the act of rewriting histories. This act of rewriting unfolds through the artist’s multi-disciplinary process, where the layered interior scenes of her paintings alloy with acts of resistance to the hegemony of History that unfold in her performances. 

Firmino was born (1993) in Pomfret, a former asbestos mine camp-turned military base in the North West province, where a group of former Angolan soldiers, who fought for the SANDF’s infamous 32 Battalion unit were relocated at the end of the South African Border War (1989). Her work surfaces from the collective trauma of the Pomfret community, and seeks to investigate the ongoing trauma African people continue to experience in the wake of colonisation, civil war and neo-liberal white supremacy. 

Firmino studied at the University of the Witwatersrand (BAFA, 2016) (MFA, 2018) in Johannesburg and has had solo exhibitions in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.  In 2020, she presented Black Melancholy/ Negotiating Trauma at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, a series of paintings grappling with the ways women of the Pomfret community have survived, beyond the traumas enacted on their bodies. 

Firmino also extends these questions of identity through a collective thinking process with artist and collaborator Helena Uambembe. Together, they form the collective: Kutala Chopeto meaning ‘to see beyond something soft’. Firmino’s project, is one invested in the recuperation of self through a confrontation with, and reconstruction of post-apartheid Southern African history. 

Firmino is also a regular donor to Click Learning through the ArtAngels Auction 

  • Original artwork by Blessing Ngobeni (Tribute to African Portraiture, 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 167 × 150 cm)
  • Original artwork by Teresa Kutala Firmino (Intimacy, 2021, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 76cm x 51cm)
  • Ellerman House Art Tour for 6 guests
  • Dinner for 6 people at Ellerman House (3 course meal, paired with wine and inclusive of canapés and welcome drinks)
  • Total value is over R260,000