Tsoku Maela was born in Limpopo, South Africa, and is currently based in Cape Town where he writes for the local youth show Hectic Nine-9.
Johnson Tsoku Maela received his BA in Motion Picture Medium at AFDA (The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance) in 2013 and works predominantly in the visual medium of film and photography while writing remains at the very core of his concepts. He had a solo exhibition with 99 Loop Gallery, his work was part of the Grid Photography Festival and has been featured in Marie Claire, Grazia, Between 10 and 5 and the cover of City Press’art journal Trending.
A Cape Town-based photographer, director and writer from Limpopo, Tsoku Maela found his path in life after a perplexing medical emergency in 2014 which inspired him to dust off his camera.
Maela began his photographic journey through capturing surreal, metaphorical self-portraits and using digital manipulation to realise his visions, channelling dreams into tangible realities. He moved from these quickly through street photography to sophisticated and thoughtful portraits and narrative series.
His work scouts for ways to define human connection through exploring the themes of strength, willpower, life and death, offering a perspective on everyday habitual life. He says, “I’ve always wanted to find ways to break the barrier between humans… No one talks to anyone today, we all struggle in silence. We live in our heads when we are surrounded by ten other people who feel the same way and have information they could share.” Focusing on this human aspect of everyday life, Maela transforms moments into life lessons through his work.
His work was part of the first Grid Photography festival held in South Africa in 2015 and the 2015 ‘BOOM! Baby’ group exhibition Youngblood Gallery in Cape Town. His first solo show with 99 Loop, ‘Broken Things
‘ was in September 2015.
Selected as one of the young artists defining the South African creative landscape in 2016, Tsoku talks about his work via Between 10 and 5 here