Nelly Guambe’s (b.1987) paintings explore and reflect upon women’s circumstances and emotions. Finding her inspiration in women whom she encounters in everyday life and work, as well as in herself, her art responds to a powerful urge to document and record their unknown state of being.
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With their hallmark penetrating eyes, her portraits evoke a probing uncertainty, a certain restlessness that frequently leaves the viewer with questions rather than answers. The tension between positive and negative coexists in equal measure in each work – Guambe’s portraits perhaps shed light on the fundamental state of ambivalence in which many contemporary southern African women find themselves, amidst both opportunity and constraint.
Born and raised in Mozambique, Guambe began painting in 2010 when she joined the Mozambican Artist Association, Nucleo de Arte, after completing a BA in International Relations and Diplomacy in South Africa in the previous year. She is now a full time artist. The themes of everyday womanhood and the human figure are also reflected in the artist’s simultaneous venture into fashion design. Guambe established two up-cycling fashion brands between 2012 and 2016, and in 2017 she co-founded the Deal Creative Space in Maputo, which promotes design, entertainment, arts, and literature.
Guambe’s first solo exhibition, “Inquietude (Restlessness)” took place in September 2017 at the Nucleo de Arte, Maputo. In 2018, her work has been included in two group shows at Guns & Rain in Johannesburg, as well as at the Mozambican Consulate in Hamburg, Germany. Her work was presented at 1:54 London by Ed Cross Fine Art, and included in a group show about portraiture at Stevenson, Cape Town. She will be presented by Guns & Rain at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, February 2019. Her work has been collected by Robert Devereux, amongst others.