Zemba Luzamba

Zemba Luzamba

b. 1973, Lubumbashi; Lives in Cape Town.
Luzamba’s paintings have covered as much ground as he has travelled. Starting with works chronicling the hardships experienced by migrants, Luzamba went on to produce vivid images of the leisure spaces occupied by these communities. As well as this, his works reflect on power relations arising through gender and social class, and Congolese histories – both grand narratives, and the conditions of ordinary life.

“Zemba Luzamba merges images with ideas”, CNN African voices, 2018

Art Education

2018: ASAI Print Access Workshop, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town.
2015: ASAI In Print, Print Access Workshop Series, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town.
1993: Institut Technique d’Art Plastique (ITAP), Democratic Republic of Congo.
1994 - 1998: Diploma, Fine Art, Evelyn Home College of Applied Art & Commerce, Lusaka.

Solo Exhibitions

2023: Folk Ritual. Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin.
2023: Kitendi. Galerie Studer, Dubai
2023: Totem. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town
2022: In the Name of….Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.
2019: Connexion. EBONY/CURATED Cape Town.
2017: Deja Vu. 5th Picha Biennale de Lubumbashi, DR Congo
2017: In The South – Paintings from 2004-2017. Stellenbosch University Museum,
2016: Genesis. EBONY/CURATED. Franschhoek.
2015: It is What It Is. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2014: Exhibition. EBONY/ CURATED, Cape Town.
2013: La Sape. Association of Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
2012: La Sape. Association of Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
2005: Hope for Refugees, Rome.
2004: Exhibition, Association for Visual Art Gallery, Cape Town.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2022: When We See Us: a century of black figurative in painting. Zeitz Museum of
Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), Cape Town.
2021: A Very Loop Street Summer. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2021: Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, FNB Art Joburg, Open City,
2021: 8 by 8. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2021: Investec Cape Town Art Fair. Virtual Representation, EBONY/CURATED,
Cape Town.
2021: In [the] Loop. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2020: FNB Art Joburg online edition, Main Booth, Johannesburg
2019: A Smaller Scale. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2019: Investec Cape Town Art Fair. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2018: The Summer Exhibition. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2017: From the Horse’s Mouth. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2016: Beyond Binaries. Essence Festival, Durban.
2015: That Art Fair. Cape Town.
2015: In Print/In Focus. Michealis Galleries, Cape Town.
2014: Inner Nature. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2014: Emergence. EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2013: First Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town.
2013: Perspectives & Dramascapes with Wycliffe Mundopa, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town.
2013: Association for Visual Art Gallery. Cape Town.
2008: Soul of Africa, Development Bank of South Africa, Johannesburg.
2007: Africa South, Association for Visual Art (AVA) Gallery, Cape Town.
2007: Blank Projects, Cape Town.
2007: Sanlam Gallery. Baxter Theatre, Cape Town.
2006: A Journey Together, Voyage Ensemble, Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town.
2006: Picasso and Africa, Alliance Francaise, Cape Town.
2005: Il Pezo Politico Dei Migranti, Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town.
2003: Xenophobia, Alliance Francaise, Cape Town.

Group Exhibitions (International)

2023: Where the Wild Roses Grow. Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Schloss Görne.
2023: You Look Hard Enough You Can See Our Future. African American Museum,
2023: Tomorrow is Tomorrow is Tomorrow. Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.
2022: Shout Plenty, the African Artists Foundation, Lagos.
2022: AAGA Annual African Galleries Now online edition powered by Artsy, Africa
2022:Untitled Miami Beach. with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Miami.
2021: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. EBONY/CURATED booth, London.
2021: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. (Virtual Representation) EBONY/CURATED, New York.
2020: Intersect Chicago online edition of SOFA Expo, Chicago
2019: AKAA (Also Known As Africa), Art and Design Fair, Paris.
2013: 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London.
2011: Art for Africa Auction, Sotheby’s, New York.
2008: Harare International Festival of Arts, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare.
2005: Il Pezo Politico Dei Migranti, Santa Mostre Sangallo, Piacenza.
1996: P.E.L (Agricultural company art patron), Lusaka.
1995: Visual Art Council, Lusaka.


2019: Kirsty Cockerill, 'Dress Code: the politics of dress, oppression and self-determination in the works of Zemba Luzamba', Africa South Art Initiative (ASAI)
2015: The Guardian Newspaper (25/03), Financial Times, London 
2015: Anna Stielau,''It Is What It Is': Zemba Luzamba at EBONY', Art Africa, South Africa 
2015: Danny Shorkend, 'Luzamba's 'Inexpressive disutopia'',
2010: Mario Pissarra, 'Migrant Perspectives: The Art of Zemba Luzamba', Critical Interventions, 4:1, 102 - 107.
2005: South African Art Diary.


2009: Nandos, London.
2002: New Royal Hotel, Blantyre, Malawi.


Cultures Inc., California.
Scalabrini House (Bassano Del Grappa), Cape Town.
Nandos, London.
Private collections: Italy, United States of America, South Africa.


It Is What It Is – Ebony Gallery, Cape Town 2015. Exhibition catalogue.

Migrant Perspectives: The Art of Zemba Luzamba – essay by Mario Pissarra
CI Zemba

“Voyage Ensemble, A Journey Together” , Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town 2007. Exhibition booklet.
“Voyage Ensemble, A Journey Together” , Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town 2007. Exhibition booklet. Zemba

“Voyage Ensemble, A Journey Together” , Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town 2006.
“Voyage Ensemble, A Journey Together” , Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town 2006 - Zemba

Khanyisile Mawhayi, Zemba Luzamba: Postcolonial identities in motion(ASAI, 2021)

Kirsty Cockerill, Dress Code: the politics of dress, oppression and self-determination in the works of Zemba Luzamba, (ASAI, 2019).

Xolile Mtakatya

b. Cape Town, 1968

Xolile Mtakatya’s works capture the cacophonic, quasi-apocalyptic everyday of Black social life in South African townships. By employing bright, sometimes jarring colour, bold lines, and by crowding his compositions with elements, Mtakatya’s images  engage the viewer’s full sensorial range, somewhat exceeding the flat plains of their surfaces.

Personal History

Mtakatya began drawing on the walls while a political detainee in 1986. As a youth activist in the late 80s and early 90s, he ran art and media workshops in his community and taught screen-printing to unemployed mothers, with the Philani Project. He also ran media training workshops for the African National Congress, and was an active member of the Visual Arts Group (1988 - 1993).

Arts Education

1993: Diploma, Fine Art, Foundation School of Art, Cape Town.
1987 - 1989: Part-time student, Community Arts Project, Cape Town.

Solo Exhibitions (South Africa)

2005: Episodes, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
1993: Diploma show, Foundation School of Art, Cape Town.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2010: Creative Block: 150 artists, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town. Embassy of Spain, Cape Town.
2010: 1910-2010 From Pierneef to Gugulective, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
2009: Art from Southern Africa, Anglican Aids and Healthcare Trust, Cape Town.
2009: Isibane, Lookout Hill, Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
2009: Winter Solstice, Cape Gallery, Cape Town.
2008 Desire, Cape Gallery, Cape Town.
2008: 16th Annual Salon, Rose Korber Art, Cape Town.
2007: Why Collect, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
2007: ReCenter, Lookout Hill, Khayelitsha.
2007: & Beyond Encryption, Cape Gallery, Cape Town
2005: Botaki: Exhibition 4, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town.
2005: Finding You, Association for Visual Art Gallery, Cape Town.
2005: 14th Annual Salon, Rose Korber Art, Cape Town.
2003: Trilogy: Innocence, Awakening and Fulfillment, Sanlam Gallery, Cape Town.
2001: Cats, Rose Art Consultancy, Cape Town.
2000: Itheko lokuza nethemba elitsha (A Celebration for Bringing New Hope), Bell-Roberts Art Gallery, Cape Town.
1999: Xolile Mtakatya/ Lundi Mduba, Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
1997: Trans Figurative, Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
1991: Visual Arts Group Travelling Exhibition, Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.
1988: End Conscription Campaign, Michaelis School of Art, University of Cape Town.
1987: Exhibition, Community Arts Project, Cape Town.
1986: Eye of an Artist, St. Gabriels Catholic Church, Gugulethu, Cape Town.

Group Exhibitions (International)

2004: Assemblage, The affordable Art Show, Batttersea.
2004: The ID of South African Artists, Fortis Circustheater, Scheveningen.
1999: Conflux, Tendances Mikado Gallery, Luxemburg.
1998: Art Beyond Borders, City Hall, Augsburg.
1997: Liberation in South African Art, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham.
1993: Manyano, Museo Etnografico Azul, Buenos Aires.
1990 - 1991: Art from South Africa, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Mead Gallery, University of Warwick; Aberdeen City Art Gallery; Royal Festival Hall, London; Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham; Bolton Art Gallery, Lancashire.


Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
Old Mutual, Cape Town.
Spier Art Collection, Stellensbosch.
Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary (SMAC) Gallery, Stellenbosch.
Nandos, London.
Mayibuye Centre, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town.

(Mtakatya's work is also included in numerous private collections in South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States of America.)

Workshops & Residencies

2023: ASAI Print Access Workshop, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town.
2018: ASAI Print Access Workshop, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town.
2005: Thupelo International Workshop, AMAC - Arts and Media Access Centre (fka Community Arts Project), Cape Town.
2001: Residency, Caversham Press, KwaZulu-Natal.
2000: Thupelo International Workshop, Goedgedacht Centre, Malmesbury.
2000: Mural Global Agenda 21, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Hagen; Aachen.
1999: Thapong International Artists Workshop, Gaborone.
1999: Mural Global Agenda 21, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Essen; Arte-Mobile - mural painting on a truck, Osnabruck.


2009: Cape Times, May 21.
2008: SA Art Times, issue 11 vol. 3, November.
2006: Mario Pissarra, Botaki Exhibition 4: Conversations with Tyrone Appollis, (catalogue) Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town.
2004: J Van den Ende & S Khan (eds), Identity: The ID of South African Artists, Stichting Art & Theatre, Amsterdam. 2004: Mario Pissarra, Botaki: Conversations with Timothy Mafenuka, (catalogue) Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town.
1999: Project Conflux, (catalogue) Association for Visual Art, Cape Town.
1990: E David, Art from South Africa, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.


Witney Rasaka

b. 1987, Limpopo, South Africa; Lives in Johannesburg.

Photographer Witney Rasaka’s work celebrates the ethics of Ubuntu. He investigates widespread manifestations of faith, ultimately highlighting something of a universal humanity.


2009: National Diploma, Photography, Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark, Johannesburg.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2010: Bonani Africa Festival of Photography, Cape Town.
2010: Festival of Photography, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town.
2010: MuseumAfrica, Johannesburg.
2010: Student show, Bodutu Art Gallery, Vaal University of Technology, Johannesburg
2010: University of Namibia, Windhoek.
2009: Echoes, Bodutu Art Gallery, Vaal University of Technology, Johannesburg.
2008: Student exhibition, Museum Africa, Johannesburg.
2008: Student exhibition, Bodutu Art Gallery, Vaal University of Technology, Johannesburg.
2008: Emergence and Emergency, The 4th Cape Town Month of Photography, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town.
2007: Student exhibition, Museum Africa, Johannesburg.

Group Exhibitions (International)

2007: World Biennale of Student Photography, University of Novi Sad, Academy of Arts, Vojvodina, Serbia.


2010: Member, World Photography Organisation.
Velile Soha

Velile Soha

b. 1957, Cape Town, South Africa; lives in Cape Town.

Working largely as a printmaker – in wood block, linocut and silkscreen – Velile Soha’s works depict figures engaged in everyday labour and recreational processes, from mine work to guitar-playing. A prevalent theme in his practice is the convergence of the lives and worlds of township residents with those of rural communities, and the historical processes that have created these spaces and caused them inevitable overlap and mixing.

Art Education

1981 - 1983: ELC Art and Craft Centre, Rorkes Drift, KwaZulu-Natal.

Solo Exhibitions (South Africa)

1998: Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2011: Thupelo Printmaking Workshop, Greatmore Studios, Woodstock, Cape Town.
2010: These Four Walls Fine Art, (with Leboana Lefuma), Cape Town.
2010: Creative Block: 150 artists, Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
2010: Embassy of Spain, Bishopscourt, Cape Town.
2010: Winter 2010, Irma Stern Museum, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.
2010: Gill Alderman Gallery (with Sophie Peters, Donovan Ward, Selvin November, Dathini Mzayiya), Cape Town.
2007: Africa South, Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
2006: Art in Business, Artscape, Cape Town.
2006: Keep Time (with Sipho Hlati and Madi Phala), Cape Gallery, Cape Town.
2006: Botaki 4, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town.
2005: A Sense of Place, Masibambisane High School, Cape Town.
2005: Encompass, Cape Gallery, Cape Town. Botaki 2, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town.
2002: Art Kites Project, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
2001: Homecoming, Guga S’Thebe, Cape Town.
1999: From Pisces into Aquarius, Idasa Gallery, Cape Town.
1999: Jill Trappler/ Velile Soha, Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town.
1999: British Council, Cape Town.
1992: Shell House, Cape Town.
1991: The Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch.
1991: Chelsea Gallery, Wynberg, Cape Town.
1990: Group Exhibition, Baxter Theatre Gallery, Cape Town.
1989: The Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch. 
1987: American Centre, Cape Town.
1986: Good Hope Centre, Cape Town.
1985: Bhekuzulu Hall, University of Zululand, Richard's Bay.

Group Exhibitions (International)

2009: Contemporary Prints from South Africa, Cultural Arts Center of Douglasville, Douglasville.
2006: Cape Town: Contemporary Prints by Sipho Hlati, Velile Soha and Ernestine White, Polvo Art Studio, Chicago.
2004: The ID of South African Artists, Fortis Circustheatre, Scheveningen, Netherlands.
2004: Memorias de un Mexicano: Homage to Francisco Mora, Beacon Street Gallery and Theatre, Chicago; Elgin Community College, Illinois.
2002: The Hourglass Project: Journey, Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design Gallery, Georgia State University, Georgia.
1996: Galerie Gabriel, Amsterdam.
1994: University of Brighton Gallery, Brighton.
1994:The Conservatoire of Music, Windhoek.
1993: Manyano, Museo Etnografico Azul, Buenos Aires.
1989: Eli Marsh Gallery, New York.
1988: Mousun Turn, Frankfurt.


Iziko South African National Gallery
Western Cape Provincial Government
Creative Block
(And numerous private collections).

Workshops, Residencies and Other Involvement

1999 - 2010: Residency, Greatmore Studios, Cape Town.
2006: Thupelo International Workshop, Rorkes Drift, KwaZulu-Natal.
2004: Renaissance Printmaking Workshop, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town.
2004: Thupelo Regional Workshop, Lwazi Centre, Cape Town.
2001 - 2004: Teacher, Community Arts Project, Cape Town.
2002: The Caversham Press, KwaZulu-Natal.
2003: Thupelo International Workshop, Malmesbury.
1999: Tulipamwe International Artists Workshop, Windhoek.
1998: Thupelo Regional Workshop, Annexe, Iziko SA National Gallery, Cape Town.
1994: Thupelo Regional Workshop, Community Arts Project, Cape Town.
1994: Teacher, Community Arts Project, Cape Town.
1993: Thupelo Workshop, Johannesburg.
1993: Thupelo Workshop, Pretoria.
1970s: Associated with the Nyanga Art Centre, (teaching, working, etc).


Velile Soha has been commissioned to make illustrations for eight books, including for Oxford University Press. He has also made illustrations for calendars by companies Engen, Caltex and Truworths. He was part of a group that received commissions from the Department of Health, for an HIV/ Aids Education mural in Gugulethu, and the Cape Town City Council, for murals in Nyanga Junction as well as ceramic murals for Guga S'Thebe in Langa.


2021: Sule Ameh James, Sociocultural themes in the art of Velile Soha, ASAI.
2006: Mario Pissarra, Botaki Exhibition 4: Conversations with Tyrone Appollis, Old Mutual Asset Managers (exhibition catalogue), Cape Town.
2005: Mario Pissarra, Botaki Exhibition 2: Conversations with Sophie Peters, Old Mutual Asset Managers (exhibition catalogue), Cape Town.
2004: T Van den Ende & S Khan (eds), Identity: The ID of South African Artists, Stichting Art & Theatre, Amsterdam.
2003: P Hobbs & E Rankin, Rorkes Drift: Empowering Prints - Twenty Years of Printmaking in South Africa, Juta Publishing, Cape Town.
1997: P Hobbs & E Rankin, Printmaking in a transforming South Africa, David Philip, Cape Town & Johannesburg.
1988: Gavin Younge, Art of the South African Townships, Thames and Hudson, London.
1988: Gavin Younge, 'The Next Million Years', In Leadership (Johannesburg) 7(5) 58-60 & 63-66.


Tyrone Appollis

Tyrone Appollis

b. Cape Town, 1957

Visual artist, musician and poet since the 1970s, Appollis works explore the interface between the challenges of the everyday and the limitlessness of the spirit and imagination.

Art Education

1978-1987: Mostly self-taught, part-time student at Community Arts Project.


2004 Pro Helvetia Residency, Altes Spital, Solothurn, Switzerland.

1989 Toured Europe on British Council grant.

Exhibitions (solo)

2010 The Framery Gallery, Sea Point, Cape Town.

2008 These houses we live in, Irma Stern Museum, UCT, Cape Town.2006: Yesterday and Today, Sanlan Art Gallery, Bellville, Cape Town.

2001 No Apologies, Association for Visual Art, Cape Town.

1997 AVA, Cape Town.

1993 Karen McKerron Gallery, Johannesburg.

1992 Chelsea Gallery, Wynberg, Cape Town.

1988 South African Association of Art, Cape Town.

1982 Rocklands Library, Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.

Exhibitions (group)

2010 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town. International Museum Day, George Museum, George, South Africa.

2009 Precedents and Currents, Mayibuye Centre, UWC, Bellville, Cape Town. Decade, Sanlam Art Gallery, Bellville, Cape Town.

2007 africa south, AVA, Cape Town.

2006 Self portraits, Chelsea Gallery, Cape Town. Botaki 4, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Pinelands, Cape Town. Boland Kelder (with Garth Erasmus and Sophie Peters), Paarl.

2005 Botaki 2, OMAM; Botaki 3, OMAM, Cape Town.

2004 Arty milk cans, AVA, Cape Town.

2000 Itheko lokuza nethemba elitsha (A Celebration for Bringing New Hope), Bell-Roberts Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town.

1999 Post Cards from South Africa, Axis Gallery, New York.

1996 Cognizance, Ingqwalasela, Herkening., AVA, Cape Town.

1993 Salon Biennial, Grand Palais, Paris. I wish you well on your way (Tribute to John Muafangejo), Chelsea Gallery, Wynberg, Cape Town.

1991 Cape Town Triennial, South African National Gallery, Cape Town.

1990 Freedom Now, Conservatoire of Music, Windhoek, Namibia.

1989 Rahmen Gallerie (with Peter Clarke and Ishmael Thyssen), Langei, Germany.

1988 Artists against Apartheid, Luxurama Theatre, Wynberg, Cape Town.

Performances (poetry reading and music)

2010 Geroeste Musiek, Tyrone in Concert, Artscape, Athlone Civic Centre, Cape Town.

2009 Cape Town Book Fair (reading to children his new story The Silver Saxophone and The Magic Paintbrush), CTICC, Cape Town. Tyrone’s Geroeste Musiek, Voorkamer Fesival, Darling, Cape Town.

2008 Cape Town Book Fair, book launch, Train to Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. Poetry Africa, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

2007 Joe Schaffers and fellow musicians (with Tyrone Appollis and Boeta Katjie), District Six Museum, Cape Town.

Public collections

Iziko South African National Gallery, University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape; Western Cape Provincial Government; Durban Art Gallery; Pretoria Art Museum; South Africa House, London; Department of Education, South Africa; Groote Schuur Hospital; Constitutional Court of South Africa; SASOL and SANLAM.

Private collections

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Judge Albie Sachs, former President Nelson Mandela and former President Thabo Mbeki.


2007 Ingrid Jonker Memorial, Gordon’s Bay, Cape Town. Sunday Tmes Heritage Project.

2006 Woolworths bags, Cape Town.

2004 Mural painting, Bridgeville Primary School, Cape Town.

1998 J&B Metropolitan Horse Race poster.

1997 City of Cape Town (painting for Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Freedom of the City).

1996 SA Gourmet Festival poster.

Publications (books, magazines, newspapers, videos and catalogues)

2010 Friends pitch in for jazz maestro cancer

2009 Cultural vagabond has his own flair, Cape Times, August 27. T Appollis, The Silver Saxophone, Cambridge University Press, Cape Town. Appollis & Maclay-Mayers, The Magic Paintbrush, Cambridge University Press, Cape Town. S Hundt (ed.), Decade, Sanlam Life Insurance, Bellville (exhibition catalogue).

2008 Tyrone Appollis, Train to Mitchells Plain, Tyrone Appollis, Cape Town. Appollis art exhibition, Cape Times, September 9.

2006 S Hundt (ed.), Tyrone Appollis-Today and yesterday, Sanlam Life Insurance, Bellville. Appollis presents a study of contradictions, Cape Argus, September 1. Mario Pissarra, Botaki Exhibition 4: Conversation with Tyrone Appollis, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town (exhibition catalogue).

2005 C Blum, Kapkunst/Cape Art: 12 Portraits of South African Artists, Murmann, Hamburg. Mario Pissarra, Botaki: Exhibition 2: Conversations with Sophie Peters, OMAM, Cape Town.

2004 M Darrol et. al, Art for Aids Orphans Auction, Paperpback, Cape Town. Mario Pissarra, Botaki: Conversations with South African artists, OMAM, Cape Town. The rights of a child, Kwela Books, Cape Town & Lemniscaat, Rotterdam.

2003 McGee and Voyiya, The Luggage is Still Labelled: Blackness in South african Art (dvd).

1993 M Martin et. al, Made in Wood: Work from the Western Cape, South African National Gallery, Cape Town.

1991 C Till et. al, Cape Town Triennial, Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation, Cape Town. Tribute Magazine. A Sitas, William Zungu-Xmas Story, Buchu Books, Cape Town.

1988 G Ogilvie, The Dictionary of South African Painters and Sculptors, Everard Read, Johannesburg. A Oliphant, Ten Years of Staffrider, Ravan Press, Johannesburg. R Rive, Emergency, David Philip Publishers, Claremont.



Train to Mitchells Plain Tyrone Appollis

2008. ISBN-13: 978-0620411387

Bold Strokes for the suffering Suzy Bell. Cape Times. 13 June 2012


Conversations with Tyrone Appollis [essay written for exhibition catalogue]

This essay was written for Botaki Exhibition 4: Conversations with Tyrone Appollis curated by Mario Pissarra for Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town, 2005

Timothy Mafenuka

Timothy Mafenuka

Timothy Mafenuka (1966-2003) was born in Guguletu but raised in Tsomo in the Eastern Cape. He returned to live in Cape Town in 1982, settling soon after in Khayelitsha. Self-taught, Mafenuka’s imaginative art provides an enchanted view of the natural world, expressed through a creative use of materials.


Self taught. Informally mentored by Xolile Mtakatya.
Several regional Thupelo Artists Workshops.

Exhibitions (solo)

2003 ‘Miracle of the Universe’, Greatmore Studios, Woodstock, Cape Town.
2003 DC Art, Cape Town
1992 Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Exhibitions (group)

2007 Exhibition #1. Gill Alderman Gallery, Kenilworth.
2007 Exhibition to accompany international conference of Jungian psychologists, Cape Town International Conference Centre. Curated by Josie Grinrod and Kate Gottgens.
2004 ‘Botaki’, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Pinelands, Cape Town.
2001 ‘Imbizo-Gathering’, AVA, Cape Town.
2001 ‘Homecoming’, Gug’Sthebe, Langa, Cape Town.
2001 Alfred Mall Gallery, Waterfront, Cape Town.
1997 St. Stephen Church, Riebeeck Square, Cape Town.
1993 ‘Made in Wood: Work from the Western Cape’, South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
1992 Visual Arts Group, Mayibuye Centre, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa;
1992 Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.
1992 30 Sculptors from the Western Cape, US Gallery


South African National Gallery; numerous private collections in South Africa and abroad.




2013 Mario Pissarra, 'Against the Grain’, Cape Town : Africa South Art Initiative.
2004 Mario Pissarra, ‘Botaki: Conversations with Timothy Mafenuka’, Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town.
2003 Martin, Proud et al (1993); Big Issue
1993 Martin, Marilyn; Proud, Hayden; et al, ‘Made in Wood: Work from the Western Cape’, South African National Gallery, Cape Town

Miracle of the Universe

© Mario Pissarra, 1/12/2005

Miracle of the Universe in the context of African sculpture

It is widely believed that South Africa and most of its neighbors have little of a wood sculpture “tradition” to compare in quality and interest with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed it was only after the landmark exhibition “Tributaries” that South African wood sculptors really registered on the map. However while Tributaries redrew the boundaries for “sub-Saharan wood sculpture” it inadvertently created the impression that wood sculpture in South Africa was largely an isolated pocket of cultural expression (i.e. a phenomenon that, to the layperson, was defined ethnically and geographically as “Venda wood sculpture”).

There have been sporadic attempts to balance this position, by for example exhibitions at the SANG (Made in Wood: Work from the Western Cape) and in KZN (at DAG & the African Art Centre). However these efforts can be considered only moderately successful, in so far as some of South Africa’s finest wood sculptors continue to languish in the margins, while all of the wood sculptors represented in Tributaries have gone on to enjoy considerable opportunity and success. [1]

Miracle of the Universe in the context of the life and art of Timothy Mafenuka (1966-2003)

Born in Guguletu, Mafenuka spent much of his childhood in the rural village of Tsomo in the Eastern Cape where as a herd boy he carved wooden sticks and spoons. After completing his schooling he moved back to Cape Town (c.1982) to look for work. He worked as a fisherman in Namibia and the Eastern Cape, and as a chef at the Cape Sun. In Khayelitsha he came into contact with other local artists, notably Xolile Mtakatya, and by the early 90s he was working as a full-time artist. In the 90s he participated in several group exhibitions, including those of the Visual Arts Group. No less than five of his early works were selected by the SANG for its Made in Wood exhibition in 1992, and one was purchased for their permanent collection. A genuinely self-taught artist, Mafenuka’s qualities were recognised by the Thupelo Workshop who invited him to attend several regional workshops and one international one.

A dapper dresser with trademark pipe and brimmed hat, Mafenuka’s art differed from most of his contemporaries in that he used unorthodox materials that he often combined with wood (including shells, glass, sand, and rubber). However it was not only his lack of exposure to art education from NGO’s such as CAP, and his choice of materials that set him apart from of his contemporaries. Enchanted by the twin joys of life and the act of creation Mafenuka avoided the dominant themes of poverty and protest. In their place he developed a magical world of the imagination, ably expressed through his evocative imagery, striking use of materials, and (particularly in his prints and paintings) a vibrant use of colour.

As enterprising as he was innovative and resourceful Mafenuka’s lyrical mono-prints and smaller sculptures can still be found in small galleries across the Cape. He was also one of the few “St Georges Mall artists” who took a small shop for himself at the Pan-African Market. In recent years he held two solo shows, unfortunately both at low-key venues (DC Art, Cape Town; and according to his family another in Pietermaritzburg). When he fell ill last year a retrospective exhibition was organised on his behalf at Greatmore Studios.

Mafenuka’s crowning achievement as an artist has never been seen by a wide audience. His forte was wood sculpture, and c. 1992 he produced his first large totemic sculpture. In total he made only six of these. Three of them were bought by private collectors (from the UK, Japan, and Cyprus). Three remain in the collection of the family. The most ambitious of these is “Miracle of the Universe” which stands at over eight feet tall. That he knew he had created something special is not only evident in the title, but also in the fact that his signature appears no less than three times on the work!

Mario Pissarra 16 February 2004

Originally written as a motivation for the purchase of Miracle of the Universe by the South African National Gallery. The motivation was successful.

[1] With the tragic exception of Nelson Mukhuba


Themba Shibase

Themba Shibase

b. Port Shepstone, 1980. Lives in Durban

Shibase’s work is anchored in questions around identity and authenticity, negotiating the seemingly disparate practices of ancestral heritage and urban culture.

Arts Education

2009: Masters of Technology, Fine Art, Durban University of Technology, Durban.
2004: Bachelor of Technology, Fine Art, Durban University of Technology, Durban.
2003: National Diploma, Fine Art, Durban University of Technology, Durban.

Solo Exhibitions (South Africa)

2009: Hybrid Culture II, Durban University of Technology Gallery, Durban.
2008: Rush hour, (multi-media installation), Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
2008: Umhlaba Kabani/ Whose Land?, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town.
2008: The Skeptic, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery, Durban.
2005: D’Urban Critique, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery, Durban.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2010: Harbouring Histories, Durban University of Technology Gallery, Durban.
2009: Joburg Art Fair, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
2009: New Connections (Durban University of Technology staff exhibition), KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery, Durban.
2008: MTN New Contemporaries, University of Johannesburg Gallery, Johannesburg.
2008: Home is my Castle, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town.
2007: About the surface, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery, Durban.
2007: From Here to There, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town.
2007: Spier Contemporary 2007, Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch.
2007: Art seasons, Franschoek, Cape Town.
2006: Form and Substance, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town.
2006: New Painting, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery, Durban
2006: University of South Africa (UNISA) Art Gallery, Pretoria.
2006: Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
2005: Graduate Show, Durban University of Technology Art Gallery, Durban.
2005: Surface, Franchise Gallery, Johannesburg.
2005: Red Eye, (video installation), Durban Art Gallery, Durban.
2005: Being Here, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery Gallery, Durban.
2004: The legacy of Trevor Makhoba, BAT Centre, Durban.
2004: Black, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery, Durban.
2004: Summer Show, African Arts Centre, Durban.
2003: Crimes of passion, Bean Bag Bohemia Arts Cafe, Durban.
2003: Summer Show, BAT Centre, Durban.
2003: Margate Open, Margate Art Gallery, Durban.

Group Exhibitions (International)

2009: Living in KZN, artSPACE, Berlin, Germany.
2008: The New Spell, David Krut Fine Art, New York.

Workshops & Residencies

2004: Art for humanity, Amsterdam, Holland.
2004: Building leadership through creative process, Caversham Centre Creative Arts and Writers, Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal.


Durban Art Gallery, Durban.
University of South Africa (UNISA) Art Gallery, Pretoria.


2009: Sean O’Toole, Zuma takes the biscuit, 'Financial Mail', February 13.
2009: Estelle Sinkins, Creative young artists, 'The Witness', October 15.
2008: Peter Machen, The art cowboy, 'South African Art Times', October, p.10.
2005: Alexander Sudheim, Exultant expressionism, Art South Africa, vol. 04, issue 02, Bell Roberts Publishing, Cape Town.
2005: Amanda Alexander (eds), Problematising Resistance, Centre for Civil Society, Research Reports, vol. 2, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Durban.


2008: Nomination, MTN New Contemporaries (one of the four finalists), Johannesburg Art Gallery.
2007: Nomination, Spier Contemporary 2007, Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch.


2008: Mentor, KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA), Nivea Art Award, Durban.
Acquisition Committee member, Durban Art Gallery
Council member, African Art Centre, Durban.
Online Newsletter editor, Art for humanity.
2004 - 2005: Curator, Durban University of Technology Gallery, Durban.
2003 - 2005: Art teacher, HIVAN-UKZN, Durban.
2002 - 2005: Part-time art teacher, Africa Art Centre, Durban.
2003: Part-time art teacher, Natal Arts and Craft School for the Disabled, Durban.
2002: Part-time art teacher, Eddington Primary School, Durban.
Muziwakhe Nhlabatsi

Muziwakhe Nhlabatsi

b. 1954, Johannesburg, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg.

Muziwakhe Nhlabatsi is a graphic artist and illustrator, best known for his representations of political themes, published in progressive media in the 1970s and 1980s. Flexible across drawing and print media, Nhlabatsi’s images have accompanied works by Es’kia Mphahlele, Chabani Manganyi and others, have appeared in texts by Black publishing House Skotaville, and have featured multiple times in anti-apartheid publication Staffrider. The artist currently runs a digital art studio in Soweto.

Peoples College Comics - Down Second Avenue


Down Second Avenue

Illustrations by Mzwakhe Nhlabatsi
Original script by Lesley Lawson. Edited by Joyce Ozynski.

Activities prepared by Joan Hoffman, edited by Barbara Hutton and Helene Perold.
Designed by Mary Anne Bahr and Zaidah Abrahams
Typsetting by Jenny Stanfield, Sached production department

Published by Ravan Press (Pty) Ltd
First impression 1988
The Sached Trust
ISBN 0 86975 329 4
Printed by Creda Press, Cape Town


1994 - 1997: Various computer training courses, Hirt & Carter training school, Parkhill Technologies, Johannesburg.
1993: Management of Book Production, British Consulate, Johannesburg.
1988: Creative Publications Design, SACHED Trust, Johannesburg.
1980: Archie Legatts Fashion Academy, Johannesburg.
1976 - 1977: ELC Art and Craft Centre, Rorkes Drift, KwaZulu-Natal.
1970 - 1971: Mofolo Art Centre (under Dan Rakgoathe), Soweto.
1969 - 1972: Jubilee Art Centre (under Bill Hart), Johannesburg.

Solo Exhibitions (South Africa)

1972: Exhibition, Gallery of African Art, Johannesburg.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2006: Ubuntu - Striving for life and peace, Durban Art Gallery, Durban.
1981: Black art today, Jabulani Standard Bank, Soweto.
1979: Contemporary African art in South Africa, De Beers Centenary Art Gallery, University of Fort Hare, Alice.
1976: New in the sun, Auden House, Johannesburg.
1975: Tribute to courage, Diakonia House, Johannesburg.
1974: Group of six, Atlantic Art Gallery, Cape Town. 
1972: Art of the townships, Gallery of African Art, Johannesburg.

Group Exhibitions (international)

1975: Young artists, International Play Group Inc., Union Carbide Building, New York.
1974: Group of six, Botswana National Museum, Gaborone.

Publications (illustrations)

1988: Down Second Avenue: The comic, Ravan Press, Johannesburg. Maria Mabetoa, A visit to my grandfather's farm, Ravan Press, Johannesburg.
1987: Staffrider, vol. 6 no. 4, Ravan Press, Johannesburg. Mbulawa A. Mahlangu, Igugu lamaNdebele, Skotaville Publishers, Johannesburg.
1986: Gabriel Setiloane, African theology: An introduction, Skotaville Publishers, Johannesburg.
1985: Essop Patel (ed), The world of Nat Nakasa, Ravan Press, Johannesburg.
1984: Eskia Mphahlele, Father come home, Ravan Press, Johannesburg.
1983: Bheki Maseko, The night of long knives, Staffrider, vol. 5 no. 3.
1982: Mbulelo Mzamane, The children of Soweto, Harlow: Longman, Cape Town. Eskia Mphahlele, Over my dead body, Staffrider, vol. 4 no. 4, pp 10-12. Mothobi Mutloatse, Mama ndiyalila, Ravan Press, Johannesburg.
1979: Chabani Manganyi, Looking through the key hole, Ravan Press, Johannesburg.

Publications (books, exhibition reviews)

2004: Elza Miles, Polly Street: The story of an art centre, The Ampersand Foundation, New York.
1992: E. J. De Jager, Images of Man: Contemporary South African Black art and artists, Fort Hare University Press, Alice.
1975: Elliot Makhaya and Eric Mani, Art in the Van Gogh tradition, The World newspaper, Thursday, July 10. Vusi Khumalo, Big Art show for Jo'burg City, The World newspaper, September 18, p 11. Elliot Makhaya, Mum doesn't appreciate, The World newspaper, Wednesday, March 12.
1974: Eldren Green, Black artists, The Argus, October 17. Group of six at the Atlantic, Cape Times, October 22.


current: Runs a computer generated digital art studio in Soweto.

1999 - 2005: Senior industrial technician, Gauteng Provincial Government, Johannesburg.
1987 - 1998: Graphic artist, Maskew Miller Longman, Johannesburg.
1986 - 1993: Graphic artist, SACHED Trust, Johannesburg.
1986 - 1987: Graphic artist, The Graphic Equaliser, Johannesburg.
1979 - 1981: Graphic artist, SACHED Trust (Turret College), Johannesburg.
1978 - 1979: Make-up artist, Hollywood Display (Multiform), Johannesburg.
1978: Art teacher, The Open school, Johannesburg.
1974: Art teacher, YWCA Vukuzenzele Children's Art Centre, Soweto.


1979: UTA Airways Fashion Design Competition, Johannesburg.
1970: Merit prize, Chamber of Commerce art competition, Johannesburg.


De Beers Centenary Art Gallery, University of Fort Hare.


Mandla Mabila

b. 1969, Barberton, Mpumalanga; d. 2012.

Mandla Mabila’s allegorical self-portraits drew from childhood experiences and memories, and raised issues around disability.

Mandla MabiliaBringing up Baby: Artists survey the reproductive body. Terry Kurgan. 1998


Arts Education

1993 - 1997: Bachelor of Art (BA), Fine Art, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Solo Exhibitions (South Africa)

2008: Mentors of excellence, Disability Lifestyle Expo, Nasrec, Johannesburg.
2001: From where I’m sitting, Standard Bank Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
2000: Brushstrokes, Bill Ainslie Gallery, Johannesburg.

Group Exhibitions (South Africa)

2007: Soul of Africa, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Johannesburg.
2006: Turn the table, ArtSpace, Johannesburg.
2006: Traditional values – Innovative ideas, Rand Merchant Bank, Johannesburg.
2006: Artists in conversation, Wits Art Galleries, Johannesburg.
2005: Artists in conversation, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria.
2002: Beyond barriers, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
2002: Perceptions, ArtSpace, Johannesburg.
2001: Friends of the Standard Bank Gallery, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg.
2000: Weft & Warp, Johannesburg Civic Art Gallery, Johannesburg. 2000: Artichoke, Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg.
2000: Mnemosyne, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
2000: Disability Renaissance, (with Tommy Motswai and Elvis Ntombela), BAT Centre, Durban.
2000: Visions of the future – World’s largest canvas interactive exhibition participation, Johannesburg Civic Art Gallery, Johannesburg. 2000: Transgressing normalcy, Bela Bela Township, Warmbaths.
1998: Bringing up baby: artists survey the reproductive body, Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown; Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg.
1998: Family ties, Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg.
1997: Fifty stories, Carlton Centre, Johannesburg.
1997: Martinessen Prize, Gertrude Posel Gallery, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
1996: Martinessen Prize, Gertrude Posel Gallery, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
1991: Student show, State theatre, Pretoria.

Group Exhibitions (International)

1999: Art and Soul Festival, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.

Publications (illustrations)

2009: Kobus Moolman (ed.), Tilling the Hard Soil, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Durban.

Publications (reviews & catalogues)

2008: Sabine Marschall, Transforming symbolic identity: Wall art and the South African identity, 'African Arts', Summer vol: 21.
2001: Shelley Barry, Politicising disability through arts and culture: an interview with Mandla Mabila, Disabilty World vol 9.
2001: Michael Coulson, Financial Mail, September 7.
2001: Kathryn Smith, Art Bio:Mandla Mabila, Artthrob, September
1998: Terry Kurgan, Bringing up baby: artists survey the reproductive body, Cape Town.


2008: Mentors of Excellence Award, Nasrec, Johannesburg.
2008: South African Disabled Musicians Association Award, Diepkloof Hall, Soweto.
2005: Nomination, Brett Kebble Awards, Cape Town.
2000: National winner, UBS Art Award, Camouflage Art, Johannesburg.
1998 - 1999: Postgraduate Merit Award, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
1997: Top Achievers Award for disabled students, Coca Cola Wits Foundation, Johannesburg.


Gauteng Legislature.
Telkom South Africa.
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).


2008 - 2011: Standard generating bodies and national qualification framework specialist, MAPPP-SETA, Johannesburg.
2007: Acting skills planning and Projects manager, MAPPP-SETA, Johannesburg.
2005: Implementation co-ordiantor, MAPPP-SETA, Johannesburg.
2004: Regional Coordinator, MAPPP-SETA, Johannesburg.
2002 - 2003: Information and disability coordinator, Create South Africa, Johannesburg.
2002: Painting tutor, Wits School of Arts, Fine Art Department, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
2001: Assistant graphic design, Computer and Network Services, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
1998: Drawing research assistant, Rock Art Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
1997: Research assistant, Disabled Student Programme; People awareness of disability issues, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
1997: Assistant designer, International Association of Art Critics, Johannesburg.
1996: Student assistant, Central Admissions Office, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.


Ludumo Maqabuka

b. 1982, Umtata, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg.

Ludumo Maqabuka’s work considers the influences of mass media on township life, exposing societal norms and constructed identities.

Arts Education

2007 National Diploma in Fine Art, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria

Solo Exhibitions

2009 27 Design Cafe, Pretoria
2008 Socially Disorientated, GordArt Gallery, Johannesburg

Group Exhibitions

2009 Obert Contemporary, Johannesburg
2008 Emerging Layers, Seippel Gallery, Johannesburg
2007 Contemporary Visions of Southern Africa, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
2006 Student Exhibition, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria. Street Art, 26Art Gallery, Pretoria


2007 Sasol New Signatures
2006 Sasol New Signatures
2004 Absa L’Atelier


Works as a graphic designer and manages an Internet Cafe in Pimville, Soweto.
2009 Organised Sunday Lunch sessions, Pretoria
2008 Mural painting, School of Creative Art, Pretoria
2004-2006 Member of Uhuru wa Maisha Arts and Culture movement (Hosted poetry sessions, discussions and art workshops; library workshops, Eskia Mphahlele Community Library, Pretoria)

Ishmael Thyssen

b. Jan Kempdorp, Northern Cape, 1953. Lives in Steenberg, Western Cape.

Primarily a wood sculptor, Thyssen also paints, prints and carves relief panels. His often contemplative figures are influenced by modernist and African sources, as well as by social concerns.


1976-1977: Art Class, Methodist Church, Somerset West, South Africa.
1980-1984: Studied at Community Arts Project (under Cecil Skotnes), Woodstock, Cape Town.

Exhibitions (solo)

2013 Return, The Framery Art Gallery, Sea Point, Cape Town.
2000 Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town.
2000 Winchester Hotel, Seapoint, Cape Town.
1991 Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.
1987 Riverside Centre, Rondebosch, Cape Town.

Exhibitions (group)

2014 ‘Against the Grain’, Sanlam Art Gallery, Bellville, South Africa.
2013 ‘Against the Grain’, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
2006 Kalk Bay Modern (with Peter Clarke), Kalk Bay, Cape Town.
2002 ‘New directions’, The Framery Gallery, Sea Point, Cape Town.
2000 Greatmore Studios, Woodstock, Cape Town.
2000 Retreat Municipal library, Retreat, Cape Town.
1996 Galerie Knud Grothe, Charlttenlund, Denmark
1993 Manneberg Jazz Cafe’ (with Donovan Ward), Cape Town.
1992 Primordial Stirrings, Primart Gallery, Claremont, Cape Town.
1992 Village Studio, Constantia, Cape Town.
1992 ‘Made in Wood’, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
1991 Gallery International (with Willie Bester and Isaac Makeleni), Cape Town.
1990/1991 ‘Art-on-the-box, [Primart], Cape Town.
1990 [Members exhibition], Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
1989 Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.
1989 Rahmen Galerie(with Peter Clarke and Tyrone Appolis), Langen, Germany.
1989 ‘Images of Wood’, Johannesburg Art Gallery.
1987 Cavendish Square, Claremont, Cape Town.
1987 African Treasures, National Touring exhibition, South Africa.
1986 South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
1984 Riverside Centre, Rondebosch, Cape Town. (organised by South African Institute of race relations)
1983 Gowlett gallery, Cape Town.
1982 Hugo Naude House, Worcester, South Africa.


Iziko South African National Gallery
Centre for African Studies (UCT) Collection
University of the Western Cape
Investec Bank Collection
Standard Bank


2013 Mario Pissarra, 'Against the Grain’, Cape Town : Africa South Art Initiative.
1993 Martin, Marilyn; Proud, Hayden; et al, ‘Made in Wood: Work from the Western Cape’, South African National Gallery, Cape Town
?1989 Images of Wood



Open Letter to the Trustees of Black Umbrella (Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, René Gimpel, Paul Goodwin, Joanna Mackle, Lord Bhikhu Parekh and Ziauddin Sardar)

Third Text Advisory Council Members, 5 December 2012

With this letter we announce our collective resignation from the Third Text Advisory Council.

With the full sadness of a long look back, we take our leave from a journal that has occupied a vital place in our critical lives and, for many of us, our artistic and intellectual formation. We do not leave gladly, but we are bound to accept that Third Text, under its current Trusteeship and editorial leadership, is no longer the journal we knew and loved.

Read More

Trustees of Black Umbrella/Third Text Reply to Open Letter

Trustees of Black Umbrella, 30 August 2012

Trustees welcome your support for Third Text. We hope to allay your concerns through reaffirming that we have no intention of undermining the collective vision of Third Text and that our priority is to sustain its future. The Trustees are long supporters of both Rasheed Araeen and of the journal and have the highest regard for his achievements. Rasheed has not been ‘ousted’ from Third Text. Our decision that he should pursue his international role was made with full regard to Rasheed’s status as Founding Editor and to the current and long term needs of the journal and Black Umbrella Trust. The current dispute is perhaps a disproportionate response to a decision made with the best intentions for all concerned.

Read More

Modernist Primitivism & Indigenous Modernisms: Transnational Discourse & Local Art Histories

Anitra Nettleton, 28 March 2011

Editor’s note: Anitra Nettleton was discussant for “Modernist Primitivism and Indigenous Modernisms: Transnational Discourse and Local Art Histories”, a panel convened by Ruth B. Phillips (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada) for “Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South” at the University of the Witwatersrand, 12 – 15 January 2011.[i]

Read More

Art & Decolonisation: Small Steps Towards a Global Art History

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF


On 14 January 2011 I convened two sessions of a panel on “art as an act of decolonisation” for an international colloquium convened by the South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH).(1) The panel comprised ten papers selected from 25 abstracts submitted in response to my call.(2)

This report provides an overview of the papers on decolonisation, without engaging in detailed summaries or critique of individual papers.(3)  It does not address the conference as a whole, although some reference is made to presentations on other panels, where these have a bearing on the decolonisation theme. It concludes with a brief reflection on the potential impact of trans-national themes on the development of a global art history.


Most papers focused on art produced after political independence, when art was entangled within the context of newly emerging nation states. This included South Africa, where ‘national liberation’ led not to ‘independence’ but to a new democratic order typically referred to as post-apartheid. Cassandra Barnett’s discussion of the artist Lisa Reihana introduced a different angle to the concept of decolonisation, since contemporary Maori art and identity falls short of most people’s notions of self-determination or liberation, perhaps explaining why the notion of indigeneity featured so strongly in her presentation (as it did in the presentation by the other Maori scholar present, Jonathan Mane Wheoki).

Shannen Hill’s paper also differed from most, since it was the only one to address work from a period of anti-colonial (more precisely anti-apartheid) resistance, although it too was framed by the post-colonial (post-apartheid) context, where hegemonic narratives erase counter narratives (in this case the legacy of black consciousness). Tegan Bristow’s presentation of internet art also stood apart. While it was situated within the post-colonial/apartheid context Bristow’s was the only paper to go beyond the framework of the nation-state, highlighting the possibilities of new global communities that are made possible through the internet.

With most papers focused on art practice, little was said of the institutional infrastructure for art. A notable exception was Kwame Labi’s comparative study of art education in Kenya and Ghana. Labi addressed the consequences of colonial-era education for contemporary art. More specifically, he highlighted how colonial views on the intellectual capacity of Africans had limited the development of art history and theory.

Several papers dealt with the recovery or affirmation of indigenous or pre-colonial identities. This included works that addressed or referenced historical figures and events, as well as others that incorporated oral traditions. It also included examples where artists referenced pre-colonial or popular artistic traditions, and melded these with dominant ‘western’ forms.

While several of the papers dealt with the recovery of the past, these invariably reflected an engagement with the present. This was visible in the appropriation of western forms, as well as the critical engagement with stereotypes. Generally, two tendencies were apparent. The first concerned the use of western forms that were subsequently invested with new or ‘local’ content. The second highlighted the development of new forms, such as the fusion of easel painting and traditional crafts in the work of Farid Belkahia in Morocco, and the use of new technologies, including digital installations and the internet.

New technology aside, the most dramatic departure from the emphasis on the past was provided by Bernadette van Haute. Following Dennis Ekpo, van Haute called for ‘post-Africanism’ arguing for the necessity to unburden the weight of the past. In contrast to Ekpo/van Haute’s critique that post-colonial African countries advocated ‘too much Africanism’, Drew Thompson’s discussion on post-colonial Moçambique highlighted a counter example where nationality was privileged over race and ethnicity.

Several papers introduced questions of censorship and historical revisionism on the part of the state, within the context of emerging nation-states where counter-narratives were seen to undermine the national ‘consensus’ being established by the ruling party. This was most apparent in Pascal Ratovonony’s account of Ousmane Sembene’s cinematic response to Senghor’s historical revisionism, and Senghor’s subsequent banning of Sembene’s Ceddo, but was also a feature of Hill’s reclamation of the influence of black consciousness on the posters of the 1980s. Thompson, like Ratovonony, also referenced the state’s control of language, where naming was sometimes subjected to state sanction, even decree.

The post-colonial state as gatekeeper was also raised in Holiday Powers’ accounts of the official contexts for the display of art in Morocco, and how artists tried to expand the audience for art through exhibiting in public spaces. This theme, of engaging with a popular audience, was also apparent in other papers. These included the narration of popular history in public museums, as in Claudia Hucke’s account of post-independence mural painting in Jamaica, reference to the use of popular art forms such as glass painting in Senegal, and the mining of oral histories and local genres, as evident in Yvonne Winters and Mxolisi Mchunu’s account of a painting by Trevor Makhoba, and potentially participatory interactions provided for by new technology, as discussed by Bristow and Barnett.

Overlap with other panels and presentations

What was striking was the overlap between the issues discussed on the decolonisation panel with other panels. This was particularly so with the “indigenous modernisms” panel (4), where several of the case studies showed artists mediating the particular and the universal, the indigenous and the western. A similar example appeared on the Latin American panel (5), in the presentation by Roberto Conduru on the Brazilian artist Rubem Valentim. Also from this panel, Helena Chávez Mac Gregor referred to the pervasive influence of Catholicism on Latin America, which served as a reminder that none of the papers on the decolonisation panel addressed the cultural dimensions of colonisation, and how these are mediated in the contexts of ‘liberation’ or ‘self-determination’. The presentation by Peju Layawola, on the “Changing museums, changing art histories” panel (6), where she discussed her artistic response to the looting of the Benin bronzes and the refusal of the British to return the spoils of their plunder, would also not have been out of place on the decolonisation panel.


The overlap with other panels highlighted that, with the majority of the world experiencing some form of colonisation, occupation, and exploitation, artists the world-over have had to rise to the challenge of making art that is relevant for their contexts. Frequently this has taken the form of developing a new form of art, one that in part draws upon their unique heritage and on the other reflects their engagement with the culture of the colonising force.

In considering how to develop a global art history it becomes apparent that the exploration of trans-national themes presents opportunities to introduce often disparate and neglected artists and movements into new discursive frameworks. While this often entails a fair amount of de-coding, translating and learning to read new visual dialects and languages, the introduction of relevant, comparative examples will inevitably lead to the emergence of new discourses. This will provide a viable alternative to the ‘peripheral artist as a shadow of a western colossus’ orthodoxy that has been responsible for the misrepresentation and exclusion of far too many artists for far too long.



(1) Held under the aegsis of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA), the colloquium theme was “Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South”. It was held at the University of Witwatersrand, 12-15 January 2011. Thanks to the Getty Foundation for awarding me a grant to attend the conference.

(2) The full title was “Art as an act of decolonisation: perspectives from and on the global south”. The call for papers read: “The struggle for decolonisation is one of the critical themes of the 20th century. Across the globe visual arts practitioners (artists, educators, historians, curators, publishers, administrators, etc) have contributed to and been impacted on by struggles for self-determination. The struggle for decolonisation does not end with national liberation in the political sense but persists in the economic and cultural spheres. Whether visual arts practitioners have been active, passive or even resistant subjects in these struggles, the art, exhibitions, and publications produced in these contexts will inevitably reference issues that can be read as part of the broader struggle for cultural identity.

Decolonisation is both an ongoing historical process and a discourse. The discourse typically invokes contested notions such as cultural imperialism, authenticity, indigeneity, traditionalism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, modernity, assimilation, synthesis, hybridity, and globalisation.

While decolonisation does manifest literally in artists’ choice of themes, images and symbols, it also manifests in quests to generate new visual languages. This includes questions of style, form and materials. Critical assessments of the purposes of art and its public are also important to consider, as is the transformation of existing art institutions, or the establishment of new ones. The relationship to the new nation-state of practitioners who see their work, as Wilfredo Lam put it, as “an act of decolonisation” is also a critical question, particularly when the new state assumes a neo-colonial character. The relationships that are privileged and cultivated with the artists and art events of other nation states are also important, since this calls into question the extent to which the struggle for dignity that led to national liberation is accompanied by a struggle to transform the eurocentrism of the international art world.

This panel discussion aims to explore how decolonisation impacts on the visual arts and how visual arts practitioners contribute as subjects to the ongoing process of decolonisation. Case studies, singular and comparative, from across the world are particularly welcomed. The emphasis will be on periods before and after political independence, as well as those dealing with the incomplete project of decolonisation in more recent times. While most case studies will come from the South, latitude will be extended to case studies from the North where equivalent struggles for self-determination occur. Critical approaches to the value and limits of applying decolonisation as a discursive frame are also welcome.”

(3) Topics and speakers for the first panel were:

  • Modernization and traditionalization: art and decolonization in Morocco – Holiday Powers (Cornell University, New York).
  • The disconnect between contemporary art practice and theory in Ghana and Kenya – Kwame Amoah Labi (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana).
  • Ousmane Sembene censored by Leopold Sedar Senghor (Ceddo, 1976): a political and aesthetical debate in postcolonial Senegal – Pascale Nirina Ratovonony (École Normale Supérieure de la rue d’Ulm/Université de Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne).
  • ’Regardless, the struggle continues’: black consciousness is a culture of resistance – Shannen Hill (University of Maryland-College Park, USA).
  • The art of Trevor Makhoba: a cultural and historical review of KwaZulu-Natal’s urban African artists’ response to decolonisation – Yvonne Winters (Campbell Collections, University of KwaZulu-Natal) and Mxolisi Mchunu (Voortrekker/ Msunduzi Museum, Pietermaritizburg, RSA).

Topics and speakers for the second panel were:

  • Murals and national identity: issues in postcolonial Jamaican art – Claudia Hucke (Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Kingston, Jamaica).
  • Renegotiating race and nationality: commercial and press-photography in post-independent Mozambique, 1975-1986 – Drew A. Thompson (Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique/Centro de Documentação e Formação de Fotografia, Maputo, Moçambique).
  • Post-Africanism and contemporary art in South African townships – Bernadette Van Haute (University of South Africa, Pretoria).
  • Rephrasing protocol: internet art in the global south – Tegan Bristow (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg).
  • What You See You Don’t See’: Lisa Reihana’s Digital Marae – Cassandra Barnett (Unitec, New Zealand).

(4) Convened by Ruth Phillips, the full title of the panel was “Modernist Primitivism and indigenous modernisms: Transnational discourse and local art histories”.

(5) Convened by Maria Iñigo Clavo and Jaime Vindel, the panel was titled “About the epistemological and political consequences of the ‘Latin American’ label”. Conduru’s paper was titled “African dimensions of Latin American art”.

(6) Convened by Jillian Carman. Layiwola’s paper was titled “Contesting imperial narratives and display of African art: A counter history from Nigeria”.



Art, Censorship & the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe

by Sokwanele

Download this essay as a PDF

This report was issued by Sokwanele on 15 September 2010 and it appears here with their permission.

This article is the first in a series that will look at forms of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. Politics has so infiltrated our lives that the personal, social and cultural are all political, and as always with Zimbabwe, it is impossible to talk about one without referencing the other. What we hope to do is to encourage people to think beyond the minutiae detail of political immediacies, and to debate who we are as people in this maelstrom, how do we define ourselves, where do we want to be going, how can we get there, and is there space for this richness of identity to be defined and celebrated in Zimbabwe today?

Read More

Art in Tunisia: A Visibility in the Making

by Mohamed Ben Soltane

Download this essay as a PDF

[This has been translated from French.]

One of Tunisia’s paradoxes is that it is among the wealthiest African countries economically, and the most socially stable, but is also among the least visible from a cultural point of view. This invisibility is reaching worrying proportions when we speak about contemporary art.

If North African artists  have been recognised  within the African and international scene, such as the Algerians Adel Abdessemed and Zineb Sédira, the Moroccans Mounir Fatmi and Yto Barrada, and the Egyptians Moataz Nasr and Ghada Amer, in Tunisia it is difficult to speak of two artists who have achieved a comparable reputation. Even if North Africa is not very well represented in the catalogued events of ‘contemporary African art’, Tunisia registers a significant absence in comparison with its neighbours.

Read More

Doing things differently: the promise of Africa. cont

Mario Pissarra, 20 May 2010

When Jose Antonio Fernandes Dias, visual arts advisor to the Gulbenkian Foundation, was asked by the Mayor of Lisbon what he thought of the idea of a museum for contemporary African art in Portugal, an idea that came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dias said that it was not a good idea. He told the Mayor that museums risk becoming static places and would keep the “ghetto of contemporary African art” alive. Something more dynamic was needed. Dias was asked to come up with a proposal. That was in 2007. Today he is heading the establishment of a new multi-disciplinary organisation, Africa.Cont, which will be housed in a new building, designed by David Adjaye, to be completed in 2012. A mildly edited version of this appeared in Art South Africa vol. 8 no. 2, 2010, p. 76.

Read More

Portugal as a place for Africa.cont

Mario Pissarra, 11 January 2010

This was presented at a meeting of Africa.cont (www.africacont.org) held on 5 December 2009 at the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. It was prepared for a panel discussion that was intended to address the possibilities and limitations of Portugal as a location for Africa.cont. Alda Costa, Barthelemy Toguo and Paul Goodwin were also on this panel, which was chaired by Roger Meintjes.
Read More

Decolonising art in Africa: some preliminary thoughts on the relevance of the discourse on decolonization for contemporary African art, with particular reference to post-apartheid South Africa.

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

This was initially presented at a lunch-time lecture at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2006. Some of these ideas have been further developed in subsequent papers. It is published here in its original form.

1. The construction and imposition of “authenticities”

Read More

The stakes of art criticism in Africa

by Yacouba Konate

Download this essay as a PDF

[This article originally appeared in Gallery No. 19, March 1999, pp. 14-15; and appears here with the permission of the author and the publisher. Initial interest in republishing this article stemmed in part from the need to highlight the critical contribution of publications produced in Africa – Gallery was published from 1994 to 2002 by the Delta Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe. On the occasion of the forthcoming AICA/VANSA seminar (8-10 November 2007) it seemed a good time to make Professor Konate’s article accessible, and to pose the question: have there been any substantive changes since this was written? MP]

In Africa, one may point out a polymorph demand for art criticism. This demand is related to a real deficit of writing about art. Indeed, very few artists in Africa own a personal catalogue. Even when they have attained a certain notoriety, most of them only feature in collective catalogues where, alongside their identity photo and a short CV, one or two photos of their works are reproduced. Bouba Keita from Mali who died in 1997, Malangatana from Mozambique, Ahmadou Sow in Senegal, Lyolo from Democratic Congo – all those artists who have dedicated their life to art – deserve critical reviews and merit a monograph for instance.

Secondly, the demand for art criticism comes from the public. The deregulation of the traditional rules of aesthetics, the proliferation of conceptual art, and the fact that anything can be presented as an artwork lead the public to understand that anybody, including themselves, can pretend to be artists. But the public need to verify their doubts and incertitudes. So they look to the critics, waiting for enlightening argument.

The demand for art criticism proceeds also from the artworks themselves. The dynamism of creativity and power of imagination in Africa have cultivated several areas of high artistic intensity and produced a lot of incisive and cutting works which are both pieces of singular lives and pieces of collective history. Luis Meque’s exploration of the underground life in the cities, Ishmael Wilfred’s fascination for the presence of spirits in our daily modern life, the reinvention of the African sculpture by Mustapha Dime or by Tafuma Gutsa, are not just amazing and exciting for the gaze. They are also basic, suggestive and succulent foods for the aesthetic intelligence of Africans facing their actuality and finding new paths between their present past and their future present.

One may define also a structural demand for art criticism. During this last decade, a culture of biennales has flourished. From the Cairo Biennale of contemporary art in North Africa to the Johannesburg Biennale in Southern Africa, passing through the Dak’Art Dakar biennale in West Africa, the agenda of the visual arts in Africa is not blank. It is busy and each event develops its unique form and content.

Devoted to African artists inside and outside Africa including the African Diaspora, the Dakar biennale nourishes the aim to become pan-Africanist. The treatment of African art is different in the two other biennales with African artists in the minority and the international dimension emphasized. In fact both of these manifestations, Johannesburg and Cairo, want to be international biennales in Africa rather than being African biennales.

The structures and processes of these different art exhibitions in Africa are themselves open to debate. For instance, while the Dakar and Johannesburg biennales work with curators who are more or less responsible for the selection of the artists, the Cairo event gives more power to institutional structures. That is to say, curators of national galleries and ministries of culture inside the countries are implicated in the selection of the artists.

The situation of cinema, dance, photography, music and drama is simpler. Each of these arts has its own festival. The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, the Choreographical Meetings of Luanda, the African Photography Meetings of Bamako and the Market of Live Arts of Abidjan don’t seem to have a problem of identity. It could be highly instructive to put in perspective the aesthetic tendencies in these different artistic disciplines. One of the main concerns across all these various fields is: What are the logics and the aesthetics of these different exhibitions? How is African art invented and why? But these questions must be preceded by another one: How is art criticism to be conceived, formatted and executed regarding these demands?

One may distinguish at least three types of criticism: the journalistic, the academic and, between these two, the critical writing in specialized journals. The first is the most current. Impressionist in its inspiration, journalistic criticism is a kind of immediate reaction, which doesn’t take the time for distancing. Engaged in the invention of the daily pages, this discourse on art avoids the jargon and the superimposition of theoretical references which construct the preciosity of the academic style. In the middle field, the criticism practiced by art magazines can combine the advantages of the two previous methods without assuming their faults. It can master its specific assets: better quality of photographic reproductions, opportunity to take the time to think and write, etc. But the problem is that there are not enough art magazines in Africa. The few that exist are not as rich as they need to be to attract the active collaboration of journalists and scholars. However, the problem of art criticism in Africa is not just a problem of publication, it is also a problem of ability or opportunity to exhibit the works of artists with which the African art critic can and must engage so that they can stimulate a real discussion and communicate the reason for showing such artworks and the need for the public themselves to try to elaborate the meanings of the artworks they like or don’t like.

Since the beginning of the century, the so-called traditional African art has been aestheticised while Negro art was produced. This aestheticisation has fostered a blindness to the art in process. One has to wait until the end of the 1960s before hearing some names of modern African artists. This process can be observed in the domain of photography. What is celebrated under the name of African photography refers to the daily work of the earlier photographers in Africa, before the 1960s, and we find again the same contagious effects between aesthetics, sociology and ethnology. At the same time, the visibility of contemporary African photographers becomes problematic.

Prominence is given to neo-primitivist artists in the internationalisation of African contemporary painting and sculpture. What has been promoted as authentic African art is, most of the time, that which appears to rupture Western standards. But at the same time, the ambiguity of the norm of authenticity has generated negative criteria. The short list of the items of this exigency are (i.e. to be an ‘authentic’ African artist is): not to be influenced by Western art, not to have been a scholar of a school of fine arts, not to be young, not to be expert in artistic rights, not to be already known, etc. Meanwhile, an artist dealing with popular imagination or offering the spectacle of a laughing Africa, is welcome. Such a policy digs a deep gap between the external point of view presented as an international one, and the internal status of the artwork. The risk is that, as airport art has increased its empire, neo-primitivist trends encapsulate creativity and direct it.

As long as the script of African art continues to be conceived from outside, African art will appear as the ‘other’ of Western art. If we accept that the process of African contemporary art criticism consists, first, in gaining distance from the sociological and ethnological codes, and then second, in assuming a personal observation and imagination, we may recognize that African artistic production can no longer be seen as the other of someone else. As long as African art continues to be seen as the other of western art, it can never be itself.

Alienated from itself and from the other, how can African art avoid remaining on the borderline of the international art system? How can it prevent itself from being the external border of African culture? We must find out an alternate way, which must not prohibit the first view point but which will overcome and dialecticise it. The professionals and the amateurs of African art criticism must not just speak about African artists and exhibitions. They must also orchestrate, from their internal African points of view, their personal syntax of African material cultures. This will begin to put an end to the monolithic externally-driven discourse on Africa and start to explore the heterogeneity of African cultures in the light of their internal histories.

Yacouba Konate is Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at the University of Abidjan-Cocody, Ivory Coast.


For enquiries about Gallery magazine email thedelta@mweb.co.zw


Stakes of Art Criticism

While I find Konate’s comments timely and agree on filling a void that exists in the art world, what I find intriguing is the fact that the hidden powers driving this social dilemma is not adressed both on the continent and internationally. What it creates is a kind of virtual reality for those who are “sleep walking” . A critic is caught up in a vocabulary that those of the other have been made to believe is the sole preserve of Western “Enlightenment” . When he reads he says here is someone trying to mimic my voice (a stolen voice) classified and renamed. This deception is what keeps the “power” in place. Can we dribble past that?

Michael Adashie, 21 March 2008

The JAG is the SANG

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

I have long argued that transformation of the South African National Gallery has been badly managed. Thirteen years into democracy it has failed to produce a demographically representative pool of curators. Perhaps more importantly, it has failed to re-orientate its Eurocentric origins by neglecting to prioritise developing relationships with other African countries. Instead, in the name of transformation, the SANG has been absorbed into a seemingly dysfunctional, costly bureacracy called Iziko Museums, a top heavy administration that has few admirers, even amongst its own ranks.

Read More

Imbacu [exhibition review]

Mario Pissarra, 31 August 2007

From the outset I welcomed this exhibition since exile (‘Imbacu’ in isiXhosa) has received scant attention from South African curators and art historians, despite being perhaps the earliest form of resistance practiced by our artists. I was also curious whether Loyiso Qanya’s curatorial debut represented a shift within the SANG, an institution that has done little to create meaningful curatorial opportunities for trainees.

Read More

Shaping Art Education in Africa: Face-to-Face Dialogues on Curriculum, Teaching – Learning and Assessment

Barthosa Nkurumeh, 14 July 2007

Deliberating Access to Quality Art Education in the 21st Century

Greetings! Or ndewo, as it is said in one of the Kwa language groups. The following are the proceedings of the panel, Shaping Art Education in Africa: Face-to-Face Dialogues on Curriculum, Teaching-Learning and Assessment at the14th Triennial Symposium on African Art organized by the Arts Council of African Studies Association (ACASA) and the University of Florida (UFL), Gainesville held at UFL on Friday, March 30, 2007 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in Room 2 of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Read More

“Made in Africa” Biennale: Afrika Heritage and the Politics of Representation

by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

Download this essay as a PDF

The baggage of post-coloniality continues to weigh-in strongly in the discourse of contemporary African art, moreso when this discourse is coloured by the politics and economics of representation. In the 1990s, the contest that ensued in the global art space with regards to African art was one of representation and authorial spokesmanship that was engendered as a result of the seminal but hugely controversial Les Magiciens de la Terre exhibition of 1989 curated by Frenchman Jean-Hubert Martin. The blockbuster show undoubtedly reconfigured the reception of modern African art in the West. But beyond that, it helped to facilitate the emergence and acceptance of contemporary African art on a large scale in major cultural institutions of the West. This to borrow from Olu Oguibe, set the tone for reclamation of author-ity and reversal of imposed anonymity on the native, perpetrated by ethnography that effectively bars claims to subjectivity and normativity.

Read More

Dirty Laundry: Can we think beyond Venice?

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

I have previously argued that Africa’s representation in Venice is irrelevant when compared to the need to develop alternatives at ‘home’. In essence my argument is that we should not judge the success of South African art (or African or ‘non-western’ art for that matter) by its presence or absence in the prime venues of the ‘international’ arena, of which the Venice Biennale is both a leading example and symbol. The health of a country’s art should not be judged by the number of international ‘stars’ it generates, since this may provide a false picture of the state of art in that country or region. Rather it should be evaluated on the quality and extent of its art practice, galleries and museums, art education, publishing, patronage, and all the critical components of art infrastructure that are essential for the development of art.

Read More

Atelier Alexandria International Artists Workshop 2006: A Report

by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nwezi

Download this essay as a PDF

The AAW International Artists Workshop 2006 provided me with an important opportunity to visit the historic country of Egypt and the city of Alexandria. Workshops provide an enabling space for artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds to commingle, network and learn from each other, and the AAW workshop was no exception.I arrived in Egypt on November 17, two days before the actual start of the workshop and this afforded me the opportunity to spend two days in Cairo.
Read More

Beyond current debates on representation: a few thoughts on the need to develop infrastructure for art in Africa

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

The discourse on contemporary African art is a comparatively recent one, and has to a large extent been dominated by issues of representation: what image of Africa is or has been communicated to the world, and to itself? Who is or who should be representing Africa? And who and what is Africa? Much of the discourse has been led by Africans in the diaspora. This generation of intellectuals has taken on the critical need to address negative, sometimes racist constructions of Africa that have been dominant, particularly but not exclusively in the West. This need to address negative perceptions of Africa, coupled with the present location of a critical mass of African artists, academics and curators in the USA and Europe goes some way in explaining why there has been an emphasis on interrogating ‘Africa’ as a concept, and why issues of representation have been foregrounded.

Read More

Open the Gate

Olu Oguibe, 9 October 2006

Download this essay as a PDF

[This letter was initially written in response to a letter from Salah Hassan and Okwui Enwezor to Robert Storr, Artistic Director of the Venice Biennale. It was copied by the writer to interested parties and is reproduced here with his permission.]

To Dr. Salah Hassan
Forum for African Arts

September 19, 2006

Read More

Targeted Candidate II [Iziko’s response to Goniwe]

by Jatti Bredekamp et al

Download this essay as a PDF

[On 1 September 2006 Jatti Bredekamp, CEO of Iziko Museums, responded to Thembinkosi Goniwe’s concerns about the South African National Gallery’s notice for the position of trainee curator. Goniwe’s intervention was initially communicated by email to Emma Bedford of the SANG on 28 July (See “Targeted Candidate”). Bredekamp copied Iziko’s response to 27 persons, most of whom received Goniwe’s original mail. On 4 September I emailed Bredekamp requesting permission to reproduce Iziko’s response online. Later that day Khwezi Gule added his voice to the debate, followed by Mokgabudi Amos Letsoalo, who had been one of the first to comment on the issues raised by Goniwe. Subsequently Mark Hipper joined the debate. The discussion of Iziko’s response went online on 11 September, without Bredekamp’s letter since I had not received a reply to my request. Some of the respondents to the debate were familiar with Iziko’s letter, having been on the initial list of recipients of the email exchange; others were not. Permission to post Iziko’s response online was finally granted on 16 October 2006. MP]

Read More

Partial Revisionism: How the British Museum’s re-framing of Africa reflects its own institutional interests and cultural bias. A review of ‘Africa: Arts and Cultures’, edited by John Mack

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

[An edited version of this review was published as “Defining African Art” on www.cloudband.com in 2001, but is no longer available. Apart from the title, no changes have been made to the original text]
Published to coincide with the opening of the Sainsbury African Galleries at the British Museum, this book avoids the expensive, coffee table format characteristic of books on African art and culture. Attractively presented with high quality colour photographs, and written with jargon free text, this book appears to be aimed at the ‘general’ reader or visitor to the Museum. [1]

Read More

Picasso and Africa: Are we asking the right questions?

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

[Note: Slightly revised version of a paper presented for a panel discussion at the “Picasso and Africa” seminar, Centre for the Book, Cape Town, 13 May 2006]

There is no doubt that Europe has stolen, and continues to steal from Africa. Thieves by nature do not usually disclose the sources of their wealth and therefore it is at times necessary to challenge and expose them. Personally I suspect that the Picasso and Africa exhibition attracted such high levels of interest and support on the part of our President and Minister of Arts & Culture precisely because here is one example where a case for Europe’s debt to Africa can be made. However I believe that centering the debate on the question of Picasso’s debt to Africa should not be the focus of our intellectual enquiry at this point in time.

Read More

The African Renaissance: Confronting the Unspeakable

by Randolph Hartzenberg

Download this essay as a PDF

[Originally presented at the Design Education Forum of South Africa conference at the Cape Technikon, now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, June 2000]

A plague wind has been sweeping across Africa, blowing across stagnant pools of absurdity, deception and attrition. The wind tears into the new millennium. Attempts at reconciliation are cast adrift. It is with disbelief, though not unexpected, that one encounters South Africans, who having chosen the supremacist path of the pre-1994 era, and having swallowed the “race” classification pill then, are now still slaves to that deception. It seems they believe that stagnation is viable, that locking themselves inside “die huis van die dowes” is still an option. It is against the backdrop of these absurd ironies that the inspiration for an African Renaissance programme has emerged. A plan for unity, for the renewal of Africa. A plea for the re-humanisation of this traumatised continent. President Thabo Mbeki, has, like Robert Sobukwe decades before him, with urgency, repeatedly spoken of his vision for progress that embodies the concept of an African Renaissance.

Read More

Connecting Africa

by Mario Pissarra

Download this essay as a PDF

[Paper prepared for the “Reconnecting Africa” panel at the “Transformation/Growth/ Opportunity” conference convened by the Visual Arts Network of South Africa, Hiddingh Hall Campus, UCT, 10 February 2006]

The title for this panel discussion should really be “connecting Africa ”. Certainly “reconnecting Africa ” is misleading if it implies that “Africa” was once connected, and that the restoration of this connection is currently on the agenda. A number of commentators, Ali Mazrui and Olu Oguibe (1993) among them, have made observations about the fictiveness of a united Africa, and how the term Africa has historically meant different things to different constituencies. Mazrui has argued that it was in fact western imperialism that inadvertently created the incentive for the notion of pan-Africanism to emerge, and pan-Africanism has been (and continues to be) more of an ideal than a reflection of actual relations between, on one hand, African countries; and on the other, between Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

Read More