Nelson Makamo Solo Exhibition: Botho, Motho, Batho

WORDS Palesa Kgasane IMAGES Courtesy of Botho Project Space. All rights reserved / Thabo Molaba / Blacksmith Creative Collective

Botho Project Space, an artist-run, pan-African visual arts platform with a programme that encourages artistic freedom and experimentation, is hosting internationally acclaimed artist Nelson Makamo‘s new solo exhibition, entitled Botho, Motho, Batho.

Image credit: Courtesy of Botho Project Space. All rights reserved.

The exhibition, running from 14 November 2020 until 14 January 2021, celebrates the work created throughout the Johannesburg-based artist’s 15-year career. Nelson’s work seeks to constantly interrogate and reimagine our humanness, purposefully without the labels and “isms” that divide us as a society. Translating to “Humanity, A Person, People”, the title of this particular exhibition speaks to this.

Image credit: Courtesy of Botho Project Space. All rights reserved.

Using his signature medium, charcoal, as well as watercolour, acrylic and oil, Nelson documents the candid nature of everyday life through portraiture and figurative artworks, while focusing on themes involving urban life, migration, community and childhood – topics that play a central role in his life and the lives of Black Africans. In this context, his eye shifts between the complex dynamics of an ever-changing post-colonial Africa.

Since his first solo exhibition at the Obert gallery in Johannesburg in 2005, entitled “Walk With Me”, Nelson has solidified his place in the international art space with his distinct style.

Born in Modimolle, Limpopo in 1982, he is best known for his charcoal and oil portraits, reimagining the decades-old perception of the African child as destitute. In his portraits, the Black child has autonomy over the gaze, often smiling, playful, flanked with vivid colours in a context that is modern and unique to them – a perspective that one would not only have to observe, but experience, to properly capture the way he has.

Nelson’s work has featured in international publications such as TIME and Vogue, and has been exhibited in the USA, France, Italy, The Netherlands and Scotland. His work also forms part of several public and private collections, including those of Oprah Winfrey and Giorgio Armani.

Image credit: Thabo Molaba

To view the full catalogue of Nelson Makamo’s work, visit and follow the artist on Instagram. The exhibition will run until 14 January 2021, by appointment only.