Who is Neo?
Neo Mahlangu (b. 1992) is a Johannesburg-based artist working primarily with charcoal and digital illustrations. Since debuting her artworks at an August House Open Studio ( Johannesburg, 2017) and having a sold out showing, Mahlangu has shown regularly at galleries domestically and made her Fair debut at the Latitudes Art Fair ( Johannesburg, 2019), showing with the South African Mint the work that is now on Two Rand (R2) circulation coins. In 2017, Mahlangu was a finalist for the Cassirer Welz Award, and was later listed by Between 10and5 as one of the Top 30 creatives under 30 in 2018. Design Indaba listed her as an Emerging Creative during the same year.
She made history by being the youngest person to design two R2 coins for South Africa (to commemorate 25 years of democracy) and Mr Price Home gave her reigns to design a blanket for their COLAB Collection which later sold out. She has been nominated by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) for the ImpACT Awards for Young Professionals in 2020.
“Recently, while scrolling through my Twitter feed, I was enthralled by the daily conversations ‘black twitter’ kept having about the state of relationship dynamics that young black hearts are immersed in. This awakened me into a realisation of how deep the yearning of finding a significant other is for most of us. Some of us were raised by parents who were scarred by the tyranny of the apartheid era. We were raised by parents who only knew how to live to survive. The nuances, and the education of self-love and the expression of love (especially romantic) towards another, has been something that we had to learn through other external sources, usually of western influence, and oftentimes, through trial and error. The high fatality rate of femicide in our country also has me questioning, what is the black love language, does it exist? How are we grooming our young ones to communicate their innermost feelings, while juggling their cultural identities? I fell deep into contemplation about the landscape of visual art in this country, and how my art could help to educate and bring to awareness this issue. “