Mthethwa photograph bought for refurbished Scottish gallery

  • 10 November 2011

A double portrait by South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa has been bought by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery ahead of its reopening on 1 December

Zwelethu Mthethwa, Untiltled, 2010 © The artist

Zwelethu Mthethwa, Untiltled, 2010

A double portrait by South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa has been bought by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery ahead of its reopening on 1 December. The photograph will feature in Romantic Camera: Scottish Photography and the Modern World, the inaugural exhibition at the new Photography Gallery.

The photograph

Part of Mthethwa’s series The Brave Ones, Untitled (2010) shows two boys from South Africa's Shembe Nazareth Baptist community – a denomination which blends Christian and Zulu traditions. The two ‘Iscotch’ – young male members of the community – wear costumes inspired by kilts, a legacy of the Scottish regiments which occupied the area in the late-19th century.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “This is a stunning contemporary artwork and we are immensely pleased to have been able to help the Scottish National Portrait Gallery acquire this work in time for its reopening and unveiling of its spectacular new Photography Gallery.”

The artist

Born in 1960, Zwelethu Mthethwa is a South African painter and photographer who lives and works in Cape Town. His work explores questions of identity, adolescence and rites of passage, examining young people at transitional moments in their lives. His work was featured at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

James Holloway, Director of the Portrait Gallery said: “I am delighted to add this vivid and memorable image, by such a brilliant South African photographer, to our great collection. It will be seen in our brand new Photography Gallery when the Portrait Gallery reopens on 1 December. I would like to thank the Art Fund whose support once again has made a highly important acquisition possible.”