Sthenjwa Luthuli Evokes Ancient African Traditions and Spirit Worlds in Meticulously Carved Paintings

“Great Pyramid” (2023), hand-carved super wood block, mixed media, and paint, 92 x 136 x 4 centimeters

In the Mpumalanga region of South Africa, a mysterious, human-built structure known locally as Inzalo Ye Langa rests in the hills. Three monolithic dolomites complement a network of stone circles, which like other monuments of its kind around the world, align with the celestial calendar. Also referred to as “Adam’s Calendar” or the “Birthplace of the Sun,” the site provides a well of inspiration for artist Sthenjwa Luthuli’s newest body of work, now on view at Unit London.

Luthuli’s exhibition Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun draws on the rich fabric of African culture, history, and folklore, exploring ancestral connections and ancient heritage. He creates meticulously hand-carved surfaces from wood in a meditative process that reveals intricate geometries and fluid figures. The painted circular patterns are influenced by traditional African healing methods, which often utilize colorful beads arranged in various formations to treat ailments and chase away bad spirits.

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