By Gabriel Baard

The warm murmur of laughter rolled out of Artist Proof Studio’s exhibition space, like the sound of seeds germinating in the aftermath of a storm. Aftermath is a visually enriching exploration of the social fabrics that bind us together, our lived realities, and the profound energy of life.

The word aftermath is from the Old English ‘æfter’ meaning ‘behind in place, later in time’ and ‘mæð’ from the Proto-Indo-European root ‘me-‘, which means ‘to cut down grass’. In this sense, aftermath is part of a process which is defined by a need to cultivate and grow, after the land has been reaped. The artists in Aftermath use the term to refer to this process of growth and renewal after and during moments of adversity. Each artist has a unique perspective, but they are all united by a profound sense of creative energy and a desire to make a difference.

Bekezela Mabena – Boarder Jumpers I – Monotype – 99.2cm x 147cm – 2023 – R13000.00 Incl.VAT – Edition of 1

One of the most striking features of the exhibition is the diversity of the artists’ work. The artists use a wide range of printmaking techniques to express their ideas while showcasing incredible skill to produce technically precise and intricate artworks. There is a common thread that runs through the exhibition: a sense of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

In his introduction to the exhibition, curator and co-participant Tshogofatso Nkhumeleng writes, “Our aim is to present an exhibition that not only examines, but reconstructs our history, traditions, culture, and religion, breathing new life into forgotten narratives.” This goal is evident throughout the exhibition, as the artists use their work to explore a range of social issues, from migration and loss to the hustle and the city.

While each work feels imbued with light and optimism, the artists have not been blindly optimistic. The use of bright seductive colours throughout the exhibition delicately contrasts the dark thematic underbelly, harmonious in their yin-yang balance. The exhibition is not simply a catalogue of social ills or conversely but rather, is a cultivated celebration of the resilience of the artists and their communities. In the face of adversity, the artists use their work to evoke a sense of hope and possibility. They show us that even in the aftermath of disaster, there is always the potential for new beginnings.

Samukelo Gqola explores his personal experiences and cultural heritage in his paintings, using sensitive mark-making, and soft colours to depict his memories of growing up in the Eastern Cape. Seza Zitha portrays himself as a hybrid creature that represents the interplay between humanity and animality, with cat-like features and halo-crowned head symbolizing his dual identity as a black African man and an artist. Tshogofatso Nkhumeleng celebrates the human spirit and our ability to overcome adversity, depicting life as a game of the hustle and strategy. Hlavutelo Ngobeni celebrates the beauty and importance of our cultural heritage in her work, using traditional objects such as clay pots and baskets to represent the values and traditions that have been passed down through generations. Thabo Skhosana’s work explores grief and loss, and the importance of resilience using windows and doorways as symbolic portals that connect the past, present, and future. Betinho Mokwane finds inspiration in the urban landscape of Johannesburg and Soweto, using vibrant colours and bold textures to capture the energy and diversity of these cities. Bekezela Mabena abstractly maps his lived realities and position within the landscape. Ben Mphande explores the dynamics of living in the city of Johannesburg, with a specific focus on how people navigate their way in search of a better life and financial opportunity.

Hlavutelo Printing


Ben Printing

The exhibition is an impactful and moving exploration of the social fabric of each artist’s lived reality. Contemporary art lovers alike will revel in the art from these inspiring emerging artists.


Betinho Mokwane – Objective – Monotype Chincole – 69.8×85.5cm – 2023 – R4500.00 Incl.VAT – Edition of 1


Ben Mphande – Dystopian I – Lithgraph – 35×49.7cm – 2023 – R2500.00 Incl.VAT – Edition 1.3


Hlavutelo Ngobeni – Ku Luka Mano – Etching – 32×23.4cm – 2023 – R2425.00 Incl.VAT – Edition 3.3


Seza Zitha – Noite Na Praia – Linocut – 17.4x15cm – 2023 – R738.00 Incl.VAT – Edition 3.5


Samukelo Gqola – Gazing The Past – Collagraph – 27.6×20.7cm – 2023 – R1200.00 Incl.VAT – Edition 6.9


Thabo Skhosana – Back room view – 48.6cm x 52.6cm – 2023 – R2952.00 Incl.VAT – Edition 1.2


Tshogofatso Nkhumeleng – Make things happen – 52.5x30cm – 2023 – R3250.00 Incl.VAT – Edition 1.4

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