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ANA Spotlight: Thero Makepe, Photographer

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Thero Makepe
Image courtesy of Latitudes

Thero Makepe is a photographer and artist who was born and raised in Gaborone, Botswana. He currently splits his time between Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Gaborone. Makepe’s work is influenced by historical and contemporary themes about his background and life in South Africa and Botswana. His portfolio of work includes photographs that imply tension, tragedy, and fatality. Some reflect peace, brightness, and eternal repose. He alternates between photographing hand-built dioramas, landscapes, and portraiture.

Makepe recently completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Michaelis School of Fine Art. During his time at UCT, the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Tierney Fellowship Foundation presented him with the Tierney Fellowship in 2019. The aim of the fellowship is to identify aspiring photographers, create opportunities for photographers and assist them in overcoming the challenges in the industry so this did wonders for his career. He was also chosen as one of the top three finalists in the Paris College of Art’s “Blurring the Lines” competition in 2020. Makepe’s limited edition book titled The Fly Machine/Mogaka was shown in March 2022 at The Art Residency Centre (Arc) in Gaborone.

Thero Makepe: Robben Island University
Image courtesy of Sakhile & Me 2020 Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta 63,1 x 84,1 cm

Thero Makepe is a founding member of The Botswana Pavilion, a collective of young artists from Botswana, concerned with advancing Botswana’s creative development and artistic archive. The artists who are members of The Botswana Pavilion put together a group exhibition which was to take place in May 2020 at the same time as an artist residency at The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. This, which could not take place due to covid-19 restrictions, would have been the third exhibition by The Botswana Pavilion after the two that both took place at the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy in 2019. It was important for these artists to actively interrogate Botswana’s creative identity collectively, across national and international borders and their 2019 exhibition allowed them just that.

Thero Makepe: Monna Wa Mmino III
Image courtesy of Thero Makepe’s Instagram 2020 Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta 84.1 x 63.1 cm

Makepe is particularly interested in the grey area between collective and personal memory as well as reality and imagination. This has earned him a seat as part of group exhibitions such as the Premise in Cape Town as well as the The Room at the BG Gallery in Santa Monica, USA. With The Botswana Pavilion he has done the Unfinished Camp exhibition in Cape Town as well as the Maš(w)i A Ditoro (Tsa Rona) in Germany.


Lelethu Sobekwa was born in Gqeberha, South Africa. She holds a BA Honours in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University. Lelethu currently writes for Art News Africa.

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