MANYAKU MASHILO is a Limpopo-born fine artist, currently based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her current work is focused on portrait paintings and map making, and expands on a range of topics that are very personal to the artist. These are identity, spirituality, migration, movement, family, our mothers, the healers and healing, land and searching for an understanding of who she is.
Born in 1991, she defines her practice as an artist as a life work. She explains “from very early on in my life, without knowing, I used art to understand myself but also make sense of my environment and the changes that are always happening to it”. As such, the priorities of her work have been to create visual archives that represent her, her family and friends, and to develop a visual language specific to her personal, cultural and contemporary experience.
Additionally, when describing what she deems priorities of her industry, she shares:
"I think there is a big need for contemporary artists to make work that represents themselves and their community. As we know, there has been a lack of this in the past so it is important that we create archives that can speak to our lived experiences from our perspective, including the people and stories that we exist in."
Although Mashilo’s work is very intimate and personal in nature, the way she creates it is still very experimental and playful. To achieve her goal of telling and archiving the stories of her people, she employs multiple techniques in order to discover not just what the work is at the end but also what she is trying to communicate with it. Often this means that there isn’t just one way that she goes about getting her pieces out, nor that each piece tells only one story. Much like the physical appearance of her paintings, the experiences in them are layered.
In 2020 Mashilo's work was included in notable group shows The Medium is the Message curated by Azu Nwagbogu at Unit London in London, UK, as well as Liminality in Infinite Space at the African Artists Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria. Both the exhibitions spotlighting artists that form part of the new vanguard in the field of contemporary African figuration. Mashilo's work was also included in the 2020 Prizm Art Fair titled NOIR, NOIR: Meditations on African Cinema and its influence on Visual Art curated by Mikhaile Solomon and William Cordova in Miami, USA. Manyaku continues to add to her catalogue, while preparing for various exhibitions in 2021. Follower her work: https://www.manyakumashilo.com/about