Johannesburg, 8 November — Of Soul and Joy is pleased to announce its former student Vuyo Mabheka is one of only 15 artists selected to present work at the Salon Approche Art Fair in Paris, taking place from the 9th to the 12th of November. Images from his ongoing Popihuise series — recently awarded the Images Vevey 2023/2024 special jury prize — will be presented as part of a solo presentation with Afronova Gallery.
Established in 2017, the Salon Approche Art Fair is unique in its curated approach to showcasing artists who experiment with, and appropriate the medium of photography. These works are all exhibited strictly as solo presentations, another distinct feature of the fair.
Born in 1999 in Libode, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Mabheka later moved to Thokoza, Johannesburg. In 2017, he discovered photography through the Of Soul and Joy project and earlier this year joined Afronova Gallery as a represented artist.
For Popihuise (a Xhosa vernacular version of the Afrikaans word for doll’s house), Mabheka uses collaged still images to create a contrast between his childhood memories and the toys he would play with to diffuse his often difficult lived reality. Creating a unique series of artwork and installations inspired by this environment, Mabheka uses cut out pictures from his childhood, drawings, and photocollage, as a reference to ‘Umkokotelo’, a slang term for reinvented structures.
“Vuyo’s work bears witness to the complex experience of his childhood, and how this came to form his identity in relation to his social and family context,” says Of Soul and Joy project manager and mentor Jabulani Dhlamini. “As someone who grew up with an absent father while living with a working mother, Vuyo’s images powerfully convey the effects of solitude on his creativity.”
Mabheka has participated in the group exhibitions “In Thokoza: Place of Peace” at Stop Sign Gallery (Johannesburg, 2019) and “Inganekwane” at Constitution Hill (Johannesburg, 2021) and NWU Gallery (Potchefstroom, 2022).
More about Of Soul and Joy
Initiated by Rubis Mécénat and Easigas in the heart of Thokoza, southeast of Johannesburg, South Africa, Of Soul and Joy aims to provide the township’s youth and its surroundings with professional skills in the field of photography. As a creative platform, Of Soul and Joy offers weekly workshops led by renowned photographers, encounters with art professionals, collaborations with cultural institutions and organizes art events in Africa and abroad.
In over 10 years of existence, the programme has helped reveal young photographers who are now making a living from their work and building an international career. Their work is exhibited in numerous festivals and fairs (Bamako Encouters, Addis Foto Fest, PhotoSaintGermain, Paris Photo, Cape Town Art Fair, etc.), awarded prestigious prizes (CAP Prize, Prince Claus Fund, etc.), and represented by agencies and galleries (Magnum Photos, Afronova).