Manyaku Mashilo is a Cape Town-based artist whose multidimensional practice encompasses mixed-media painting, drawing, and collage. Born in Limpopo in 1991, she addresses themes of spiritual identity, memory, ancestry, community and belonging.
Mashilo draws on inspiration from photographic archives to build expansive scenes where imagined representatives of Blackness migrate through abstract liminal spaces. These scenes act as celestial cartographies, connecting the depicted Black figures through a felt mutuality of heritage, spirituality, shared ritual and intent. These migratory figures, forever moving between and through, are driven by an energetic pull toward a new vanguard where purpose and representation can be renegotiated.
Mashilo’s figures are drawn from family photographs, historical imagery depicting various experiences of Black lives and portraits of people from her own community. In this way, Mashilo enmeshes the contemporary and historical as a form of interdimensional mapping. Lineage and memory, both collective and personalised, conflate in this unknown world. Her vast cosmological landscapes offer a multiverse of imagined futures, weaving together place and space, charting a rich and diverse tradition of African spirituality and identity.
Mashilo’s solo exhibition at Southern Guild, An Order of Being, in 2023 follows solos at 99 Loop Gallery in Cape Town and the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, both in 2020. Southern Guild has presented her work at The Armory Show in New York, Expo Chicago and the Investec Cape Town Art Fair.
Her work was recently included in Spectrum: On Color and Contemporary Art at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Africa Supernova at Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, and Rites of Passage at Gagosian, London. Mashilo has also participated in exhibitions at the African Artists Foundation in Lagos, the Javett Centre in Pretoria, Art X Lagos with SMO Contemporary and Unit London. Her work forms part of the Shulting Art Collection, Tiroche Deleon Collection, and The Suzie Wong Collection as well as private collections in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Korea and United States.