Going solo

In SOLO, Charity Vilakazi weaves African narratives with mythology to pay homage to her heritage and the matriarchy.

A young South African multimedia artist who was selected as one of Design Indaba’s Emerging Creatives for 2022 will exhibit her artworks as part of SOLO, an exhibition curated by another Design Indaba alum.

Nokukhanya Charity Vilakazi, born in Durban and now based in Johannesburg, is a visual storyteller who takes inspiration from the African folktales and oral history of her upbringing, highlighting African women specifically. To create her characterful artworks, she incorporates ibomvu, a naturally abundant red clay often used for skincare purposes, with acrylic paints as a way to reference the beauty of African women.

Her multimedia paintings explore the role of African women in traditional folktales, illustrating the ‘liberated and disruptive’ potential of female power, resilience, wisdom and agency when women are positioned as the protagonists of their stories. ‘I had the privilege of being surrounded by grandmothers who believed in enforcing the values that we as young girls are worth [every bit as much] as the boys, and they made sure to tell us tales that had a woman protagonist,’ she explains. ‘They would tell us tales that were handed down by word of mouth through generations and are an essential part of keeping up the tradition.’ 

SOLO, one of many exhibitions happening at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair at the Cape Town International Conference Centre between 17 and 19 February 2023, is a collection of presentations by 10 local and international artists. This year’s collection, titled ‘Time’s Labyrinth’, is curated by Sean O’Toole, a Cape Town-based journalist, writer, two-time Design Indaba Conference speaker, and former Design Indaba editor and correspondent.

Seeking to fully explore the practices of both emerging and established artists, O’Toole has selected 10 artists at different stages in their careers to feature in SOLO. The artists are Athenkosi Kwinana, Lunga Ntila, Hugh Byrne, Gerhard Marx, Maja Behrmann, Joachim Schönfeldt, Jeanne Gaigher, Simphiwe Buthelezi, Johno Mellish and Charity Vilakazi. 

Catch them alongside a multitude of other artists at the fair. Find out more information here.  

Read more 

Charity Vilakazi

Paying homage to the matriarchy

Viva Africa

Photographs: Charity Vilakazi.