Heroes (2012–ongoing)

Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi
Oil on canvas
50 x 50 cm (each)
Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson, Amsterdam, Cape Town and Johannesburg


Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi’s multimedia and performance practice investigates power structures and imagines possible alternatives.
Heroes (2012–ongoing), a series of oil-on-canvas paintings, pays tribute to both well-known and unsung figures linked to the struggle against apartheid and colonialism. By employing square canvases reminiscent of ID photos, she creates a space of equality between viewer and image. Through flat, monochromatic backgrounds that replace signifying detail, the figures are placed in a timeless, contextless realm. Nkosi thus fashions new dimensions to historical narratives, evoking a more inclusive notion of personhood while rejecting the reductive tendences of conventional hero worship.