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.


Visual Century: South African art in context, 1907-2007 (4 vols)

Editor-in-chief: Mario Pissarra
Editors: Jillian Carman (vol 1), Lize van Robbroeck (vol 2), Mario Pissarra (vol 3),
Thembinkosi Goniwe, Mandisi Majavu & Mario Pissarra (vol 4).
Publishers: Wits University Press & The Visual Century Project.
Date: 2011.

ISBN: 978 1 86814 547 8 (boxed set), 978 1 86814 524 9 (vol 1), 978 1 86814 525 6 (vol 2),
978 1 86814 526 3 (vol 3), 978 1 86814 527 0 (vol 4)

Note: Visual Century was directed by Gavin Jantjes and project managed by ASAI. 

Visual Century Volume 1 (1907–1948)
Edited by Jillian Carman

Visual Century Volume 2 (1945–1976)
Edited by Lize van Robbroeck

Visual Century Volume 3 (1973–1992)
Edited by Mario Pissarra

Visual Century Volume 4 (1990–2007)
Edited by Thembinkosi Goniwe, Mario Pissarra and Mandisi Majavu

Copies of Visual Century: South African Art in Context 1907-2007 are available through the following distributers:

Blueweaver (South Africa)
Email: orders@blueweaver.co.za 
Website: www.blueweaver.co.za

Transaction Publishers (Outside of South Africa)
Email: orders@transactionpub.com
Website: www.transactionpub.com

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.

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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.
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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

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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”

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The stakes of art criticism in Africa

by Yacouba Konate

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[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

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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.

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

by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

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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.

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Dirty Laundry: Can we think beyond Venice?

by Mario Pissarra

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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.

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

by Mario Pissarra

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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.

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Open the Gate

Olu Oguibe, 9 October 2006

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[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

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Targeted Candidate II [Iziko’s response to Goniwe]

by Jatti Bredekamp et al

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[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]

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Picasso and Africa: Are we asking the right questions?

by Mario Pissarra

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[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.

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The African Renaissance: Confronting the Unspeakable

by Randolph Hartzenberg

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[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.

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Connecting Africa

by Mario Pissarra

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[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.

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