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Unit London Opens 'Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun' by Sthenjwa Luthuli

July 25th–August 24th, 2023 | London, UK

Unit London is pleased to present their summer exhibition, 'Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun' a solo show by South African Visual Artist, Sthenjwa Luthuli.

The exhibition takes its name from Inzalo Ye Langa, or Birthplace of the Sun, the African name for a series of stones believed to be the oldest manmade structure in the world. Situated in the sacred site of Mpumalanga in South Africa, the stones are a unique example of a monolithic solar calendar. By tracking the shadow of the sun cast by these stones, ancient peoples were able to discern the date, time and significant cultural events. Inspired by the ancient site, Luthuli considers the practices and customs of his African ancestors before the infiltration of colonising forces. As such, Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun, looks back to an older way of life, exploring deep rooted connections to natural and spiritual worlds.

Umphafa_2023_Hand-carved super wood block, with mixed media_136 x 92 x 4 cm | Courtesy of Unit London

Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun presents a series of Luthuli’s meticulously hand carved and painted pieces. Each artwork is inspired by African history, harking back to Black ancestral traditions. Luthuli remarks that many younger generations in Africa have grown distant from their ancient heritage because of the effects of colonisation. During his youth, Luthuli was only taught about Western culture, becoming detached from his ancestral connections. As such, Luthuli began to research African history, teaching himself about ancient African customs and spiritual practices. For example, the circular patterns of colour in each artwork are inspired by traditional healing methods. African healers often use colourful beads in their process, using different colour formations to treat different issues. A beaded necklace in particular colours can be used to chase away bad spirits, to ease ailments or simply to bring luck to the wearer.

Throughout his recent career, the artist has incorporated headless figures into his wood carvings. Now, these figures are rendered in three dimensions for the first time. They appear to come alive, emerging and climbing out of flat wooden surfaces. While the headless figures represent the missing names and identities of the artist’s forebears, lost to time and devastation of colonisation, they also symbolise Luthuli’s strong belief in the human spirit.

In this sense, Luthuli’s artworks present a space of liberation, in which figures are untethered and unafraid. Ultimately, Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun presents Luthuli’s wish to communicate intangible ideas of history and spirituality to younger generations, reminding us of a more ancient and organic way of life.


Sthenjwa Luthuli, born in 1991 in Bothas Hill, KwaZulu-Natal, is a South African artist working primarily in carved wooden reliefs and woodcut prints. In 2011 he enrolled for the Velobala Saturday art classes hosted by the African art Centre at the Durban University of Technology. As a result of his dedication and commitment and overt talent he was selected to further take part in the Velobala mentorship program in 2012.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Imbewu Yokhokho (The Seed of Our Ancestors), Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana (2022); Imfumbatho, Unit London, London, UK (2021) and Umthente Uhlaba Usamila, BKhz Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2021). Selected group exhibitions include Africa Inspires, Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, Netherlands (2023); Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden, Netherlands (2023); 1-54 Art Fair, Unit London, London, UK (2022); Liminality In Infinite Space, Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Nigeria (2021) and BLACK VOICES: Friend of My Mind, Ross-Sutton Gallery, New York, USA (2021).

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Unit London Opens 'Inzalo Ye Langa: Birthplace of the Sun' by Sthenjwa Luthuli

July 26, 2023

Art Report Africa

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