Engineering the New Jerusalem III – The Digital City

Solo exhibition: Lwandiso Njara

Lwandiso Njara kicks off 2021 at the UJ Art Gallery

It is with great anticipation that UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) proudly kicks off the UJ Art Gallery’s 2021 programme with Lwandiso Njara’s solo exhibition, Engineering the New Jerusalem III – The Digital City.

Inspired by the “new contemporary robotic or technological African urban identity”, Njara’s exhibition is a fitting opening to UJ Arts & Culture’s technology-enhanced 2021 programme. The exhibition will take place through both exclusive individual appointments to the visit the UJ Art Gallery and on the gallery’s online platform, Moving Cube from 3 March 2021. Due to Covid-19 restrictions there will be no public opening event, but art-lovers are invited to a virtual walkabout with Njara and an opening address by Dr Johan Myburg, streamed online on 3 March 2021 from 18h00.

Engineering the New Jerusalem III – The Digital City is an exploration of Njara’s understanding of his changing identity. Despite growing up in a traditional Xhosa household, Njara’s Catholic schooling by nuns from India and Switzerland exposed him to different ideologies and technologies. His spiritual and cultural identity was informed by a combination of western Catholicism and Xhosa ancestral rituals.

Through this new oil paintings, sculpture and drawings, Njara visualises the hybrid nature of his upbringing, poignantly questioning whether the two realms can merge as one and to what extent the technological advances have replaced the soul of a culture.

This body of work often exposes the internal workings of machines through tools, cogs and mechanisms, portraying a cross-pollinated sense of identity which emerges from the physical hybridity of his works. He often blatantly merges polarities in one body through using the lamb, goat, cow and white doves fused with mechanical gears and engines, all acting as signifiers for the artist’s own hybrid sense of identity.

Gordon Froud, Head of Fine Art at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) considers Njara’s work as that of an “Afrofuturist that is embracing the past and yet firmly on a trajectory to the future. (This work) brings the hybrid of an imagined future with reference to the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the inherent past of the human and the animal into being as a positivist statement on where mankind and particularly Africa is going”.

The physical exhibition at UJ Art Gallery ends on 24 March 2021 while the 3D exhibition will be on Moving Cube at until March 2022.

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic no public opening events will be hosted at the UJ Art Gallery during 2021. A virtual walkabout with Lwandiso Njara with an opening address by Dr Johan Myburgh will be streamed online on 3 March 2021 from 18h00.
  • Click HERE to confirm your virtual seat in the Moving Cube online room or follow the discussion live on the UJ Art Gallery’s Facebook.
  • The artworks can be viewed by appointment for the duration of the exhibition on weekdays between 09:00 and 15:00.
  • Click HERE to book your one-on-one appointment.


Lwandiso Njara was born in 1987 in a small Transkei village of Libode, situated in the picturesque Mpondo Valley. Njara still derives his inspiration from his formative years spent in this rural setting. After completing his secondary education, he moved to Pretoria where he completed a B Tech degree in Fine Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Since then, he has exhibited regularly and has been the recipient of rewards such as the first prize in the Thami Mnyele Fine Arts competition (2012) as well as a merit award in the PPC Young Sculptor competition (2012) and a runner-up prize in the PPC competition in 2009.

He currently resides in Cape Town.


UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts. For regular updates follow @UJArtsCentre on Twitter or visit

The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) offers under- and postgraduate programmes in eight creative disciplines: Architecture, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Jewellery Design & Manufacture, Multimedia Design, and Visual Art. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education. Equipped with state-of-the art, custom-built facilities, the Faculty is staffed by highly regarded academics, artists and designers.