Vuyo Mabheka, a former Of Soul and Joy student, triumphs with his award-winning Popihuise series at the Salon Approche Art Fair in Paris, showcasing a visually stunning narrative that explores his childhood memories and the transformative power of art.
Johannesburg, South Africa (13 November 2023) – In a celebration of creativity, culture, and resilience, former Of Soul and Joy student, Vuyo Mabheka, stands in the spotlight as one of the select 15 artists chosen to showcase their exceptional work at the Salon Approche Art Fair in Paris.
This prestigious event, renowned for its curated approach to photography, promises a unique solo presentation by Mabheka, whose Popihuise series recently clinched the special jury prize at Images Vevey 2023/2024.
The Salon Approche Art Fair, founded in 2017, distinguishes itself by exclusively showcasing artists who push the boundaries of photography, standing out with its dedication to solo presentations that highlight the individuality and uniqueness of each artist’s vision.
Hailing from the vibrant landscapes of Libode, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Vuyo Mabheka’s artistic journey began in 2017 through the Of Soul and Joy project. Fast forward to 2023, and he now proudly represents Afronova Gallery, a testament to his remarkable growth and talent.
Mabheka’s Popihuise series, named after the Xhosa vernacular version of the Afrikaans word for doll’s house, is a poignant exploration of his childhood memories and the toys that provided solace in the face of life’s challenges. Through collaged still images, drawings, and photo collages, he creates a visually stunning narrative that references ‘Umkokotelo,’ symbolizing the reinvention of structures in his life.
Jabulani Dhlamini, project manager, and mentor at Of Soul and Joy, praises Mabheka’s work, stating, “Vuyo’s images powerfully convey the effects of solitude on his creativity, bearing witness to the complex experience of his childhood and how this shaped his identity in relation to his social and family context.”
Mabheka’s artistic journey extends beyond this solo exhibition. He has been part of group exhibitions like “In Thokoza: Place of Peace” at Stop Sign Gallery in Johannesburg (2019) and “Inganekwane” at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg (2021) and NWU Gallery in Potchefstroom (2022). These exhibitions have been stepping stones, allowing Mabheka’s unique voice to echo across different platforms.
Of Soul and Joy, the creative platform that ignited Mabheka’s artistic spark has been a transformative force in Thokoza, southeast of Johannesburg. Initiated by Rubis Mécénat and Easigas, this program empowers the township’s youth by providing professional skills in photography. Over its ten years of existence, Of Soul and Joy has been instrumental in revealing young photographers who now make a living from their art, participate in international festivals, and are represented by prestigious agencies and galleries.
As Vuyo Mabheka steps into the spotlight at the Salon Approche Art Fair, it’s more than an exhibition; it’s a celebration of talent, resilience, and the transformative power of art. His journey, from the vibrant landscapes of South Africa to the cultural hub of Paris, showcases the positive impact of initiatives like Of Soul and Joy, shaping the destinies of young artists and bringing their stories to the world stage.