“Lefa La Bontatarona,” (Our Inheritance)
Opening : Saturday, April 15. 2023. 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Public viewing: April 15th to April 30th, 2023.
Address: 2220 Commerce Street #D, Houston, TX 77002
Mitochondria Gallery is honored to present “Lefa La Bontatarona,” (Our Inheritance) by South African Artist, Zwelethu Machepha. “This body of work seeks to trace our ancestral lineage, by celebrating the spectrum of our backgrounds, experiences and gifts inherited from our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. As we learn about our heritage, we learn about our cultural timeline which in turn benefits our spiritual being. I used embroidery as a metaphor to illustrate the layers and strong backgrounds we possess. Watercolors to suggest fluidity or communication with other dimensions (inner worlds). Fineline pens as a technical connection. Together these lines form an underlying and transcendent connection between everything.”
– Zwelethu Machepha
Addressing the yields of ancestral connection and the juxtaposition of a severed link between a group of people and their heritage, “Lefa La Bontatarona” translates to “Our inheritance.”
Zwelethu was born in the twilight of South Africa’s Apartheid regime. He was raised in the township of Soweto, a township created in the 1930’s by South Africa’s government with the intention of segregating Black South Africans. Growing up in Soweto, Zwelethu was surrounded by innovation, improvisation, and a history of resistance. These elements influenced his artistic practice to be experimental and to lend his voice to current affairs.
In “Lefa La Bontatarona,” Zwelethu is reaching for vigor from the distant past of his cultural heritage, where he attempts to connect with ancestral roots. In creating this body of work, Zwelethu travels though the path of reestablishment in his artistic practice and as a member of humanity.
Working with ink, charcoal, watercolors, phosphorus pigments, silk, and polyester threads, Zwelethu presents eight works to translate the message of human connection. His distinct multiple exposure portraits are present throughout this body of work. The intersecting ink fine lines cascade through overlapping facial reconstruction of his subjects, symbolizing our outer and inner self. Watercolors flow through these fine lines indicative of the connection between the body and the soul
Studio Visit : Zwelethu Machepha
About Zwelethu Machepha
Zwelethu is an independent visual artist born in 1990 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Post high school he joined art classes at the Johannesburg Central Library and the Education Centre at the Joburg Art Gallery. In 2010, he joined a specialized printmaking institution and completed a four-year printmaking course, where he was a Screen Print Technician and a Facilitator printing works of artists such as Nelson Makamo, William Kentridge, Bevan de Wet, Stephan Erusmus, Bambo Sibiya, Faith 47 and Anti Est.
Zwelethu has participated in numerous exhibitions such as the “NDO-IMA-DZI” Independence Group Exhibition at Botho Project Space, “In Time We Will Find Our Way Home” at the 2020 Ake Arts and Book Festival, the 2020 Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize Exhibition, the 2019 Prizm Art Fair and Speak: A Group Exhibition in memory of and unveiling work by Dumisani Mabaso.
Zwelethu has featured in various other projects such as the ABSA L’Atelier viral video Hypnosis. In 2016, he was selected for the 5th edition of the Art Residency Project, an exchange of Artists between Italy and South Africa. Zwelethu’s work is in various private and corporate collections including the Art Bank of South Africa, the Arts and Culture Trust Fund and the African Arts Fund and he currently practices art full time in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Works by Zwelethu Machepha are in prestigious private and public collections in Africa, North America, and Europe such as The African Arts Fund (TAAF), Arts and Culture Trust Fund (South Africa), Carmelo Anthony collection (U.S.A), Butts Family collection (USA), Bell Equipment (South Africa), Tracker (South Africa), and Art bank of South Africa.
1. “Lefa La Bontatarona,” (Our Inheritance). Mitochondria Gallery. Houston, Texas. 2023.
1. Art Genesis, The Beginning of Legacy, Los Angeles, CA, United States. 2022.
2. ART CONTEMPORAIN – De l’après-guerre à nos jours, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. 2022.
3. In Stranger Times, Art Bank of South Africa 2021 New Acquisitions Exhibitions, Bloemfontein, South Africa. 2022.
4. Studio Nxumalo in association with Gallery 2, A Cloud, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2021.
5. Botho Project Space, “NDO-IMA-DZI” Independence Group Exhibition, Botho Project Space, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2021.
6. Richard Beavers Gallery, Wealth Surrounds Me: Gold & Kinfolk, Brooklyn, New York, United States. 2020.
7. Smile Artists Africa Project, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2020
8. Ake Arts and Book Festival 2020, In Time We Will Find Our Way Home, Nigeria. 2020.
9. Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize Exhibition 2020, The Politics of the New, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2020.
10. Speak: A Group Exhibition in memory of and unveiling work by Dumisani Mabaso, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2019
11. 2018 ABSA Champagne Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2018
12. Ubuntu Pathways Gala, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2018
13. Platform creative, 100% design, South Africa.2018
14. Modern Masters, Hazard Gallery, South Africa. 2018
15. KKNK, curated by Lucia Boer, South Africa. 2017
16. Hazard Gallery, curated by Nolan Stevens, South Africa. 2017
17. Surface/Subtext, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa. 2016
18. Broken Monsters Charity Art Show, Cape Town, South Africa. 2016.
19. Catalyst, KKNK Arts Festival, curated by Lucia Boer, Oudtshoorn, South Africa. 2016
20. Absa L’atelier Competition, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2016
21. August House, August House and Hazard Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2016
22. Heart of Darkness, Art Room, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2016
23. WINTER, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. 2015
24. KUNS, The Main Change Building curated by Lucia Boer, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2015
25. July Christmas, Art Room, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2014
26. Artists Exhibition for ACT, 20th Anniversary and 17th Annual Awards, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2014.
27. 5th Annual Group Show, Sharon Studio, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2013
28. A4 Show, Kalashnikov Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2013
29. Printers Show, Kalashnikov Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2013
30. 21 years of Printmaking, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2012
1. Richard Beavers Gallery at UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach 2020, Miami, Florida, United States. 2020.
2. Richard Beavers Gallery at SCOPE Art Show, New York, United States. 2019
3. Richard Beavers Gallery at Prizm Art Fair, Miami, Florida, United States. 2019.
4. Black Artists and Designers Guild, Balance, curated by Leyden Lewis, 2019 Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Texas, United States. 2019
5. Red Room, Turbine Art Fair, South Africa. 2018
6. Red Room, Art Fair, Netherlands. 2018
7. Cape Town Art fair, curated by ARP, South Africa. 2017
5th Edition ARP – Art Residency Project, Central Luigi Di Sarro, Rome, Italy, 2016/2017
• Devon Gilfillian, Album Cover Artwork for “Black Hole Rainbow”
• Bell Equipment Bauma Africa
• Golder Associates, South Africa
• Grid Design, South Africa
• MYCiti Bus, South Africa
• NDID Mural Projects, South Africa
• Four-Year Printmaking Course, Artist Proof Studio, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2010.
• Johannesburg Art Gallery, Painting Class, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2008.