ASAI members at AGM, November 2018


Africa South Art Initiative (ASAI) began in 2005, concerned with the lack of engagement by South African artists, art historians and curators with their peers on the African continent. Since then ASAI has begun to understand its role as both a pan-African project as well as an initiative located in the global south. The resources generated by ASAI represent a modest contribution towards the development of discourses rooted in (rather than imposed on) formerly colonised contexts, especially in Africa, in order that a more inclusive vision of international art and art history can emerge, informed from ‘below’. Based at the University of Cape Town since 2008, but not funded by or affiliated to the university, ASAI sees its role as bridging academic and popular discourse, with artists being central to this process.

Click here to read ASAI’s founding statement 

Vision, Mission and Values


To be a leading research based visual arts organisation, globally recognised for developing an effective website and for innovative projects.


  • To generate quality resources on art in Africa for educational and professional contexts
  • To provide a platform for current debate and polemics in the fields of art and art history in Africa
  • To serve as a point of contact between scholars and art practitioners across the African continent and abroad.


    • Accessibility & inclusivity: ensuring that our projects are accessible to all constituents & create opportunities for meaningful participation.
    • Relevance: ensuring that our work is relevant for African and developing contexts.
    • Innovation: promoting a culture of creativity, imagination, initiative, resourcefulness & collaboration in recognition of the necessity to share resources & develop innovative solutions.
    • Inclusive africanism: promoting critical engagement with what it means to be African in the contemporary, postcolonial, globalised context.


Honorary Patrons

The following distinguished individuals accepted invitations from ASAI to become honorary patrons. Patrons contribute directly to ASAI mostly in advising future projects and supporting ongoing fundraising efforts.

Dr. Rasheed Araeen

Artist and Founding Editor of Third Text, London, UK. Publications include Making Myself Visible (1984) and Art Beyond Art (2010). Curated The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain at the Hayward Gallery, London (1989).

Chabani Manganyi

Retired clinical psychologist and former Director General of Education, RSA (1994-1999). Publications include biographies of Es’kia Mphahlele (1983, 2010), Gerard Sekoto (1996, 2004) and Dumile Feni (2012).

Barbara Murray

Independent curator and critic. Former editor of Gallery magazine, Zimbabwe. Curated Transitions: Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe 1960-2004 for the Africa Centre, London (2005); and co-curated Dak’Art, Senegal (2006).

Nkiru Nzegwu

Chair of Africana Studies and Professor of the graduate program of Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture at the University of New York, Binghamton, USA. Founded and . Publications include Contemporary Textures: Multi-dimensionality in Nigerian Art (1999).

Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie

Associate Professor, Department of History of Arts and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. Founder and editorial director of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture. Publications include Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist (2008) and Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art (2011).

Steven Sack

Director, Origins Centre, University of Witwatersrand. Former Director, Arts, Culture and Heritage Services, City of Johannesburg, and former Director of Cultural Industries, Department of Arts & Culture, South Africa. Curated The Neglected Tradition: Towards a New History of South African Art at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (1988).

 The late Prof Uche Okeke was also a founding patron of ASAI.

Board of Directors

ASAI is governed by a board of directors:


Present Directors

Justin Davy (additional). Elected 2021.

Russel Hlongwane (chairperson). Elected 2019 (former treasurer, 2017-19)

Nomusa Makhubu (deputy-chairperson). Elected 2018 (former chairperson, 2015-18).

Fiona Mauchan (secretary). Elected 2021.

Mario Pissarra (managing director). Appointed 2008.

Greer Valley (additional). Co-opted 2017, elected 2018.


Past Directors

Glen Arendse (2010-12).

Farzanah Badsha (2010-16), former secretary.

Charl Bezuidenhout (2012-18), former treasurer.

Gill Cowan (2008-10).

Garth Erasmus (2008-10), former chairperson.

Liesl Hartman (2010-12).

Mike Mavura (2021-22), former treasurer.

Tony Mhayi (2008-10).

Dathini Mzayiya. (2008-10, 2015-16).

Siona O’Connell (2012-14), former chairperson.

Donald Parenzee (2012-14).

Ayesha Price (2014-21), former chairperson.

Tracey Saunders (2008-12), former treasurer and chairperson.

Athena Sotomi (2008-10), former chairperson.

Lize van Robbroeck (2016-18), former deputy-chairperson.

Donovan Ward (2010-18)



Glen Arendse – Artist and musician. Founding member, ASAI.
Charl Bezuidenhout – Gallerist. Director, World Art Gallery.
Justin Davy – Curator. Director, Goodman Gallery. Director, ASAI.
Garth Erasmus
– Artist. Founding member, ASAI.
Thulile Gamedze – Artist and writer.
Heidi Grunebaum
– Historian and poet. Director, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape.
Randolph Hartzenberg – Artist and art educator. Founding member, ASAI.
Russel Hlongwane – Arts administrator and creative industries consultant. Director, ASAI.
Zemba Luzamba – Artist.
Nomusa Makhubu – Artist, curator, and art historian. Professor, Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT. Director, ASAI.
Fiona Mauchan – Designer. Director, ASAI.
Mike Mavura,
Curator. Lecturer, Visual Studies Department, Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. Trustee, Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust.
Anthony Mhayi
– Artist and art educator. Founding member, ASAI.
Sibongile Msimango – arts administrator. Coordinator, Goethe Hub.
Mario Pissarra – Art historian. Founder and managing director, ASAI.
Ayesha Price – Artist and art educator. Founding member, ASAI.
Lize van Robbroeck – Art historian. Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts, University of Stellenbosch. Founding member, ASAI.
Greer Valley – Curator. Lecturer, Wits School of Arts, and PhD candidate. Director, ASAI.
Donovan Ward – Artist. Founding member, ASAI.


Andre Barnard, Rayda Becker, Gill Cowan (founding member), Michael Godby (founding member), Liesl Hartman (founding member), David Hlongwane (founding member), Jill Joubert (founding member), Maurice Mbikayi, Dathini Mzayiya (founding member), Siona O’Connell, Donald Parenzee (RIP), Jill Pillay, Sonya Rademeyer, Tracey Saunders (founding member), Athena Sotomi (founding member), Ernestine White-Mifetu (founding member).


Present members of staff

ASAI has one full-time employee and offers fixed term-contracts (usually for researchers) on a project basis. There are currently no contract staff, due to current funding constraints.

Mario Pissarra – managing director (2008-). Mario is an art historian and founding director of ASAI. His publication credits include editor-in-chief of the four-volume Visual Century: South African art in context, 1907-2007 (Wits University Press, 2011); editor of the multi-authored Awakenings: The art of Lionel Davis (ASAI, 2017); author of Against the Grain: Sculptors from the Cape (ASAI, 2013); and co-editor of the online journal 3rd Text Africa, published by ASAI. He is a former Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Stellenbosch, and has a PhD from the University of Cape Town for his thesis, Locating Malangatana: Decolonisation, aesthetics and the roles of an artist in a changing society (2019).

Past staff members

Vanessa Anaya (2013), Andre Barnard (2009-15), Michaela Clark (2017-18), Justin Davy (2015-18), Jarrett Erasmus (2013-14), Thulile Gamedze (2020-22), Gabrielle Goliath (2015), Natasha Himmelman (2013-16), Vivien Kohler (2010-11), Carmen le Roux (2009), Fiona Mauchan (2010-11, 2017-20), Tony Mhayi (2010-11), Jade Nair (2013), Thembinkosi Ncube (2015-18), Tambu Ndlovu (2011-12), Loyiso Qanya (2013), Khumo Sebambo (2020-21), Keely Shinners (2021-22), Theo Sonnekus (2020), Ronnell Swartbooi (2010), Greer Valley (2015-16), Nosipho Vinqishe (2010), Tasneem Wentzel (2017), Ernestine White (2014), Charne Willemse (2011), Scott Williams (2014-18), Jill Williams (2010), Lukho Witbooi (2020)


ASAI relies on donors for their support for its ongoing projects. Special thanks extend to the following organisations for their commitment to the Africa South Art Initiative :

ASAI is registered both with CIPRO as a Section 21 Company and as a Public Benefit Organisation with SARS. Registration number :2008/004687/08 l PBO

number: 930 027 865

Annual Reports

Financial statements

Annual General Meetings