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Obstacle 1: Studio Study V

Obstacle 1: Studio Study V
signed 'Serge.' (on a label affixed to the reverse)
oil on wood
20 7/8 x 29 1/2in. (53.1 x 75cm.)
Executed in 2014
Stevenson, Cape Town.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Isabel Millar
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Lot Essay

Serge Alain Nitegeka delves into the depths of abstraction. A refugee himself, having fled the Rwandan genocide for Johannesburg, his work examines displacement and forced migration. Working almost exclusively with blocks of primary colours or, more frequently, monochrome and exposed plywood or woodchip, there is a deeply utilitarian approach to Nitegeka’s choice of materials. His geometric compositions are displayed in conjunction with his large scale installations, which create something akin to an obstacle course: the viewer is forced to duck and weave their way through the invasive, impassable girders, offering a metaphor for the experience of migration.
There is a distinctly Constructivist vein to his style which, through its austere abstraction, reflects a modern industrialised society. However, where Constructivism celebrated industry and proletarian values, Nitegeka’s work critiques these man-made structures, and their associated checks, balances and limits to free movement. The structures in Nitegeka’s work are imposing, and require negotiation.
Obstacle 1: Studio Study V may be understood in these terms: the obstructions, although imposing, can be also be worked around. Nitegeka represented South Africa at the 2015 Venice Biennale as well as receiving the Jean Paul Blachère Prize at the Dakar Biennale in 2010. He received the VILLA Extraordinary Award for Sculpture from the Claire & Edoardo Villa Will Trust. He opened a solo exhibition at Stevenson in Amsterdam in April 2022. Nitegeka is represented by Stevenson, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Amsterdam, as well as Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.

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