The imagery deals with concepts of nostalgia, community, survival and decolonization and juxtaposes the portrait, interior, exterior and landscape to underline the fugitive nature of time. The skilled and compassionate portrayal of the people and places he draws and paints, in diffused and subtle colour harmony, create a mood of introspection but also confronts the viewer with serious issues around land expropriation and the trauma and transformation of a community in post-apartheid South Africa.
Through many personal and day-to-day conflicts growing up in rural Free State and later moving to Gauteng and city life, Nhlapo endeavours to create a personal narrative with this body of work, a symbolic longing to re-connect to the land of his ancestors.
His reference to the Dutch Baroque Interior paintings, for instance, reflect the firsthand experience of both his late grandmother and mother being domestic workers and the hardships he experienced due to their absence in his formative years during the Apartheid years. Whilst it might seem to be a strange choice to be working in European Classical style, the artist deliberately does so and attempt to decolonize one’s mindset through his practice.