South African Surrealist Photographer, Cheeky Ingelosi


Conceptualist photographer, burst onto the scene last year with her profoundly dramatic and relatable series, “A Girl Called Melancholy.”  After being introduced to her jarring, magical realism with a vintage vibe from a friend sharing the Bustle article on Ingelosi; I had to speak with the artist…

“Dep Line” by Cheeky Ingelosi

The work unapologetically, but beautifully, represented the depression I knew too well.  What would be rosy images of a clearly gorgeous young woman were cut short with a dignified, surgically neat, decapitation of her head.  It was the 1,000 words of explanation every victim of depression searches for to explain their fractured mental state.

“Deprecate” by Cheeky Ingelosi

With a growing collection of vintage garb and pieces, Ingelosi (Swahili for “angel”) employs the stark South African plains to contrast with the romanticism of the clothes.  In a way, both tell the story of by-gone eras and evoke the fantasy of happiness via nostalgia and cinema.  “I am the photographer, model, and post producer as I do mainly conceptual self-portraits.  I get inspired by poetry, social issues, and paranormal stories, etc. Depending on the state of mind I’m in, ideas will flood into my head at which point I attempt to sketch them in an old diary.  I will then decide what to wear from my collection of vintage dresses and which props to use.  Next is the location.  If I feel very brave, I will take the leap and go to a place I had previously seen and do random poses in creepy old dresses, otherwise, I will use images I have taken of locations previously, and add myself into it using editing software.  I make use of a DSLR camera, a tripod, and a remote. Once I’ve taken all the images I had in mind, I transfer them to my laptop where I make use of various types of editing software to create my final image.  This can take anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days.”

“Listen” by Cheeky Ingelosi

Ingelosi’s new, ongoing pieces have featured new voiceless victims—animals.  Fiercely vegan, but thoughtful and kind in her attempts to convince others to adopt her lifestyle, Ingelosi sincerely hopes her art can affect change.

Daily, she documents on Facebook her mouth-watering, plant-based creations (and modestly priced vegan, bargain finds) to goad others into life
sans animal exploitation.  Her activism, like her art, is gentle, but jarring to bring her audience to a higher, contemplative state.  “To be honest I do not force an issue. I do not have an exact final product in mind and am quite flexible to how it turns out. In many cases, I have pleasantly surprised myself by doing something new at the last minute.”

Unlike other vegan art or activism posts, Ingelosi is concerned with the inception of the idea of “farm animals” and look to draw on the implicit love of domesticated animals (i.e. cats and dogs) to grow that protective circle.  She teases the audience with innocuous posts on Pinterest furniture picks or her adorable cat but cashes in on that attention by asking her friends and followers to think, or think more, before they eat.

Like her melancholy series, her vegan activism art is meant to connect rather than berate.  A self-taught artist, an ardent endorser of the thousands of free YouTube tutorials, and inspired by everyday life, Ingelosi’s authenticity in her activism is what keeps a viewer from fully shutting off to the horrors of animal exploitation.

“Vegan Square” by Cheeky Ingelosi

She brings it into your own body to give the questions a deeper hold.  Ingelosi is aware of the more controversial nature of her new project, but “Quite honestly, I do not create my art with the prospect of it being displayed or showcased.”  Perhaps it is this purity and devotion to art that is the magic behind what speaks so loudly and eloquently to a world audience with Ingelosi’s work.

“Grow” by Cheeky Ingelosi