Tsoku Maela

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About me

Inspired by the realm of dreams as an archive Maela’s work and practice primarily concern themselves with human behaviour, memory and well-being within socio-economic and psychospiritual frameworks, particularly in African contexts.

Maela uses his visual mediums not only to document the present but also as a way to look into the future by re-visualizing African narratives, culture, and aesthetics often as part of surreal and abstract visual worlds. 

Having worked in various mediums outside of photography Maela was awarded the Standard Bank Rising star award in 2016 for Media & Marketing, and has exhibited in Lagos, Zürich, Miami at Art Basel and a selection of student-organized exhibitions such as  Harvard Graduate School of Design, the University of Global Health Equity (Rwanda) and Ljubljana University Medical Centre (Slovenia) to name a few. Private collections of his works include the contemporary art collection M&C SAATCHI, Amawal collection, and the JP Morgan Abadali art collection, among others.



  • Photo17, solo, Directors selection (Broken Things), Zurich
  • Turbine Art Fair, Lizamore and Associate Gallery
  • 35 years: Trailblazers group exhibition, Lizamore & Associates gallery
  • FNB Joburg Art Fair, group exhibition with Ablade Glover & Tony Gum, Christopher Moller gallery


ICT Cape Town Art Fair, group show with Neo Matloga, Ablade Glover (including Andrew Solgado Solo)

No More clichés, please, solo. Lizamore & Associates gallery

In Silva group exhibition (including Gina Waldman, Diane Victor, Anastasia Pather), Kalashnikov Gallery, Johannesburg.

Appropriate, PULSE Art Fair, Art Basel, Miami - Christopher Moller gallery 


  • In Silva, KKNK Festival, Oudtshoorn
  • Heart & Mind, Silvermine Arts center, New Canaan, Connecticut
  • Je Sais Pourquoi Chante L'oiseau en cage, Montreal, Quebec (w/ Nigra Iuventa)


  • Photo London fair (Digital)
  • AKAA (Also Known as Africa) art and design fair, Paris (African Arty)
  • 2021
  • London Art Fair w/ African arty
  • Art Market Budapest w/ Christopher Moller Gallery


  • Investec Cape Town Art Fair (African Arty), South Africa
  • 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair, Paris
  • "Stories we should tell" group exhibition curated by Sumayyah Raji, Harvard Graduate School of Design


  • "The language of crazy", State of Dis-ease: A transdisciplinary workshop on South African health and Illness presented by JIAS , University of Witwatersrand (2019), curated by Dr. Beth Vale
  • Strauss & Co Masterclass: Using Photography to document the future - Tsoku Maela in conversation with Richard Ndimande. Strauss & Co (2019)
  • Mental health stigma discussion with Sarah Agatoni, Hamwe Festival (Rwanda), University of Global Health Equity (2020)
  • Dagmar Van Weeghel and Tsoku Maela in conversation with Dr. Amanda Maples (curator of African Art North Carolina Museum of Art), AKAA art design fair (2020)
  • Exploring identity through photography: Diane Smyth in conversation with Jane England, Adjoa Armah and Tsoku Maela, Photo London (2021)

Masculinity, Mental health & Creativity: A conversation with Tsoku Maela and Abbas Zahedi. Chaired by Sai Murray. Hosted by Healing Justice London (2021)


  • Standard Bank Rising star award: Media & Marketing (2016)
  • City Press: Trending - Photographer of the Year (2016)
  • Movement: Art for social change, Pitroda Art  (2021, Chicago)
  • The Lancet Psychiatry Journal Cover artist (2022, London)

Media & Residencies

CNN: African voices, GUP Magazine, VICE, Hyperallergic, Contemporary Art curator magazine, Transition Magazine (Harvard University), ZAM Magazine, Human Factor 3, ART MUCH? (University of Johannesburg), Sunday Times, City Press, Indwe Magazine, Mango JUICE, Shots Magazine, Huffington Post, BBC Radio

  • Amplify Studio Artist in residence, Cape Town, 2017
  • "The exchange" residency programme curated by Dr. Erinma Ochu as part of Sheffield International Documentary Festival (Artists in residence: Suzie Larke (Wales), Tsoku Maela (SA) & Farzana Khan (UK), 2020
  • The Sociological review image-maker in residence (May, 2022)
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