Search form

Blog Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Tumblr Icon Instagram Icon Flickr Icon YouTube Icon RSS Icon Email Icon

Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List


Southern Africa : Southern Africa (Region)

print

close window

Art from the frontline: contemporary art from Southern Africa: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe. London: Frontline States/Karia Press, 1990. 128pp. illus., map. N7391.7.A78 1990 AFA. OCLC 24476216.

The choice of the term "frontline" in the title of this book immediately sets the political context and tone. Art from the frontline states of southern Africa cannot avoid being political, just as artists from the frontline states must carry forward their individual quests for personal identity and artistic solutions in a highly politicized, often war-torn, destabilized environment.

The occasion for publishing Art from the frontline was a 1990 exhibition at the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, which later traveled in the United Kingdom. The book contains a series of short essays on art in these countries; those on the visual arts are: Teixeira on Angola, Costa on Angolan textile weaving, Williams on Botswana, Malangatana on Mozambique, Soares on Mozambique, Jengu on Tanzania, Chongwe and Chongwe on Zambia, Bush on Zambia, Walker on Zimbabwe sculpture, Williams on the Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre, and Kahn on photography in southern Africa.

Art/images in Southern Africa: Stockholm, the Culture House, May 19-September 24, 1989 touring Sweden and the Nordic countries until May 1990 = Bild/konst i södra Afrika Stockholm, Kulturhuset, 19 maj-24 september 1989: därefter turné i Sverige och Norden t.o.m. maj 1990 / edited by Christina Bjork, Kerstin Danielson and Bengt Serenander. Stockholm: Kulturhuset: Riksutställninger, [1989]. 100pp. illus. (pt. color). Text in English and Swedish. N7391.7.A79 1990 AFA. OCLC 24980376.

The Swedish have been in the forefront of the struggles in southern Africa, in particular the struggle for cultural expression. This 1989 exhibition is the third organized by the Culture House in Stockholm, and it featured an interracial group of visual artists from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, and South Africa. Four artists from each country were chosen; all are painters or graphic artists: from Zimbabwe, Doreen Sibanda, Berry Bickle, Stephen Williams, and Joseph Jumah; from Mozambique, Isabel Martins, Victor Sousa, Nurdino Ubisse, and Fernando Rosa; from Angola, Victor Teixeira (Viteix), Francisco D. Van-Dúnem (Van), António Ole, and António Feliciano Dias Dos Santos (Kida); from South Africa, Vuyile Cameron Voyiya, Bongiwe (Bongi) Dhlomo, Sue Williamson, and Helen Mmakgabo Sebidi. Several works of each artist are illustrated along with a portrait and biographical information. The main text consists of five essays, all by artists, who collectively describe the cultural context within which artists in southern Africa work and highlight recent trends in the emergence of art since the 1960s. Doreen Sibanda ("Survey of the development of the arts in Zimbabwe: a crossroad in Southern Africa") writes of the arts in post-Independence Zimbabwe (not all of which is stone sculpture!) and the pivotal role of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Stephen Williams takes a broader historical perspective in his essay "Art and change in Southern Africa," examining the evolution from the colonial to the post-colonial periods (particularly in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe). Malangatana's essay introduces "Four artists from Mozambique," the four in the exhibition. David Koloane describes the ambivalent relationship of "The artist and his community" in South Africa. Sue Williamson, also on South Africa, writes of "Art under oppression" and the moral responsibility of artists in South Africa to carry forward the political struggle through art.

Bushman art: contemporary art from southern Africa. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche, 2002. 149pp. illus. (pt. color). N7391.7.B97 2002 AFA. OCLC 50780432.

This is the first significant presentation of contemporary San art from Botswana and South Africa. Today’s San art is a latter-day expression of a very ancient art, rock paintings. Although done in different media, the aesthetic, sensibility and imagery of the contemporary work harks back to the rock art. The contemporary artists are doing painting and prints. The featured artists are from the !Xun and Khwe Art Project in South Africa and the Kuru Art Project in Botswana.. The complicated and tragic history of the San peoples is the inevitable backdrop to this revival of artistic creativity. Brief bios of the artists are included.

Contemporary Bushmen art of Southern Africa: an exhibition / compiled by Kuru Cultural Project of D'Kar, Botswana in association with the Namibian Arts Association; foreword by Stephen Williams. Botswana: Kuru Cultural Project, 1991. [14]pp. illus. (pt. color). N7396.6.B6C76 1991 AFA. OCLC 26176459.

The Kuru Cultural Project was begun in 1990 at the remote D'Kar mission station in Botswana. Its aims are to provide opportunity to local San people to experiment with drawing and painting, to create an income-generating enterprise, and to foster cultural awareness. Art is not taught, but materials are provided and free reign for imaginative creativity is encouraged. Many of the paintings on fabric and boards are startlingly reminiscent of San rock paintings. Four of the San artists -- two men and two women -- are profiled. The National Museum and Art Gallery in Gaborone has acquired and exhibited some of the work. See also the article by Stephen Williams, "The contemporary art of the Nharo San: National Museum and Art Gallery exhibit 2 July-21 July 1991," Botswana notes and records (Gaborone) 23: 286-287, 1991 [and] "Nharo San contemporary art exhibition at the National Gallery," Zebra's voice (Gaborone) 18 (1): 3, 1991.

Court, Elsbeth. "Pachipamwe II: the avant garde in Africa?" African arts (Los Angeles) 25 (1): 38-49, 98, January 1992. illus. (pt. color), notes, bibliog. N1.A258 AFA.

Zimbabwe's artists' retreat, known officially as Pachipamwe International Art Workshop, is a rare occasion for regional and a handful of international artists to come together for two weeks of concentrated work and artistic collaboration. Court writes about the experiences of Pachipamwe II held in 1989 at the Cyrene Mission near Bulawayo. A diverse group of artists -- diverse in age, training and media -- found opportunity to experiment (some more than others) with new materials, new techniques and new themes, inspired in part by different surroundings and in part by interactions with other artists. Among the issues that came up in the artists' discussions were those of creativity and innovation, nudity in art, and the authenticity of abstraction and non-objective painting. There were also discussions, pro and con, about the need to establish a formal art school in Zimbabwe, such as the regional school being planned by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Among the twenty-two participants in Pachipamwe II were Bill Ainslie, Sokari Douglas Camp, Tapfuma Gutsa, David Koloane, Adam Madebe, Joram Mariga, Bernard Matemera, David Ndlovu, Antonio Ole, Helen Sebidi, and Vote Thebe. An exhibition of Pachipamwe works followed the workshop.

Mnyele, Thami, 1948-1985. Thami Mnyele + MEDU Art Ensemble : Johannesburg Art gallery / edited by Clive Kellner and Sergio-Albio Gonzálex. Sunnyside, South Africa: Jacana, 2009. 216pp. illus. (some color). DT1963.M59 2009 AFA. OCLC 501159351.

Artist and activist Thami Mnyele was killed in Botswana in a raid by the South African Defense Force in June 1985. He had been deeply embedded in the South African resistance and was a central figure in the MEDU Art Ensemble, established in exile in Gaborone by Wally Serote. This book and the accompanying exhibition recover and reconstruct the life and times of Thami Mnyele and MEDU through private archival sources, through those who knew him or were collaborators in MEDU. This is also a story of cultural resistance, through political art and graphics and drama and music and poetry. The culmination was the 1982 Culture and Resistance Symposium and Festival of the Arts, held in Gaborone, which is the subject of one chapter in this book. The first chapter focuses on Mnyele himself and his art, and the second, on the work and programs and personalities of MEDU Art Ensemble. A final chapter documents the horrific raid of June 14, 1985, and the aftermath. Mnyele was not the sole victim of that attack, but his death bestowed a martyr status. Poignant period photographs, archival documents as well as art work from the 1970s and 1980s fill any important gap in the history of 20th century South African art.

Morton, Elizabeth A. Missions and modern art in southern Africa. PhD dissertation, Emory University, 2003. Ann Arbor: UMI Dissertation Services, 2003. 378pp. illus., bibliog. (pp. 222-234). N7391.7.M67 2003a AFA. OCLC 57238134.

Mission art schools in the world of contemporary African art have been ignored by scholars and and relegated to the dismissive category of “mission art.” Morton argues that this is untenable due to the widely divergent styles, media, and influence of artists who were products of mission art schools in southern Africa. Taking four art schools as her focus of study, Morton investigates the pedagogical philosophy, tutorial methods, limits on artistic freedom, commercial (or non-commercial) nature of the mission art enterprises, and subsequent careers of leading artists. The four centers and their prime movers are Grace Dieu Mission (Edward Paterson) and Rorke’s Drift (Peder Gowenius) in South Africa and Cyrene Mission (Edward Paterson, again) and Serima Mission (Robert Groeber) in Zimbabwe. Some well known South African, Namibian, and Zimbabwean artists were initially taught at these missions (though a few tried to hide this fact), e.g., Ernest Mancoba, Job Kekana, John Muafanjego, Azaria Mbatha, Dan Rakgoathe, Cyprien Shilakoe, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joseph Ndandarika, Kingsley Sambo, and Samuel Songo. When compared to the secular art workshops of Pierre Romain-Desfossés, Pierre Lods, Cecil Skotnes, Frank McEwen, and Ulli Beier, the southern African mission art schools show some clear similarities. In short, “mission art has been far more influential in the birth of modern African art than it has been given credit for,” and is indeed at the forefront of it.

Od Konga k Zambezi: plastiky a malba: Konga-Zambie-Zimbabwe: Alšova jihoceská galerie, Wortneruv dum, Ceské Budejovice 14.12.2006-4.2.2007 / text, Pavel Mikeš, Jaroslav Olša, Vlastimil Tetiva. Ceské Budejovice: Alšova jihoceská galerie, 2006. 1 vol. (unpaged) illus. (color) N7391.65.O35 2006 AFA. OCLC 701049961.

This exhibition of contemporary works from Zimbabwe plus a few works from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was shown in the Czech Republic in 2006. The sculpture is all Zimbabwean stone sculpture; the paintings are by artists from all three countries.

Thapong International Artists' Exhibition (1991: Kanye, Botswana). Thapong International Artists' Exhibition, 11 December '91-31 January `92: National Museum and Art Gallery, Gaborone. [Gaborone: National Museum and Art Gallery, 1991]. [10]pp. N7380.5.T355 1991. OCLC 25856687.

The Thapong workshop seems to have taken root in Botswanaian soil. Now in its third year, Thapong 1991 followed the successful model of earlier workshops with invited artists from Botswana in the majority (fourteen of the twenty-three), five from other countries in southern Africa, and four from overseas. Following the workshop, an exhibition was held at the National Art Gallery in Gaborone. In this brochure, one work of each artist is illustrated along with a portrait photo and artist's statement. Most of this year's participants were painters.

Thapong International Artists' Exhibition (1994: Kanye, Botswana). Thapong International Artists' Exhibition,... National Museum and Art Gallery, Gaborone. [Gaborone: National Museum and Art Gallery, 1994]. [not yet available for review]

Thapong International Artists' Workshop (1989: Kanye, Botswana). Thapong International Artists' Workshop, Kanye, Botswana, 1989. [Gaborone: s.n., 1989]. 8pp. illus. (color). N7380.5.T36 1989 AFA. OCLC 24990401.

The first Thapong International Artists' Workshop was held in November 1989 at Kanye, Botswana. Modeled on the Thupelo and Pachipamwe workshops in South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, the Thapong workshop brought together twenty-four artists from six countries for an opportunity to create, critique and share ideas. Six works of art are illustrated in color.

Thapong International Artists' Workshop (1990: Kanye, Botswana). Thapong International Artists' Workshop, Kanye, Botswana, 1990. [Gaborone: s.n., 1990]. 21pp. illus. (color) N7380.5.T36 1990 AFA. OCLC 24990586.

The second Thapong International Artists' Workshop, though smaller than the one in 1989, appears to have been a fruitful encounter for the nineteen participants. Eleven artists from host country Botswana were joined by others from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, England and the United States. In this brochure, one work of each is illustrated with portrait of the artist at work.

Thapong International Artists' Workshop (1992: Mahalapye, Botswana). Thapong International Artists' Workshop, Mahalapye, Botswana, 1992. [Botswana: s.n., 1993]. 23pp. illus. (pt. color). Steering Committee chairperson: Stephen Mogotsi. N7380.5.T36 1992 AFA. OCLC 33156948.

The fourth Thapong International Artists' Workshop was held at the Kanamo Centre in Mahalapye, December, 1992. The two-week workshop brought together eighteen artists from Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, England and Canada. In this brochure the artists are pictured along with one work. Participating artists in 1992 were: Kentse Bogatsu, Feng, Ann Gollifer, Mokwaledi Gontshwanetse, Modirwa A. Kekwaletswe, Moitshepi Madibela, Stephen Mogotsi, Velias Ndaba, Qumao Nxuku, Xwexae Dada Qgam, Gershom Sanga, Donna Stoner (Botswana); David Koloane (South Africa); Samate Mulungo (Mozambique); Lawrence Yombwe (Zambia); Dominic Benhura (Zimbabwe); Adrian Vinish (Canada); and Vanessa Jackson (England).

Thapong International Artists' Workshop (1993: Mahalapye, Botswana). Thapong International Artists' Workshop, Mahalapye, Botswana, 1993. [Gaborone, Botswana: s.n., 1994]. 26pp. illus. (color). N7380.5.T36 1993 AFA. OCLC 35116617.

The fifth Thapong International Artists' Workshop was held at Kanamo Centre in Mahalapye in December 1993. The two-week retreat brought together twenty-one artists from southern Africa, Canada, Germany, England and the United States. In this brochure one work of each artist is illustrated. The participating artists in 1993 were: Randy Bloom (United States), Lynn Donoghue (Canada), Yvonne Droge-Wendel (Germany), Veryan Edwards (Botswana), Rebbeca Fortnum (England), Mokwaledi Gontshwanetse (Botswana), Enock Ilunga (Zambia), Thamae Kaashe (Botswana), Albino Zaqueu Lucas (Mozambique), Moitshephi Madibela (Botswana), Nhlanhla Clement Mbatha (South Africa), Stephen Mogotsi (Botswana), Rantefe Mothebe (Botswana), Israel Moyo (Zimbabwe), Peter Mwahalukange (Namibia), Velias Ndaba (Botswana), Qmao Nxuku (Botswana), Johannes Phokela (England), Herman Pitz (Germany), Xladom "Ankie" Qomaxa (Botswana), and Gershom Sanga (Botswana).

Transitions: Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, 1960-2004 / an exhibition presented by The Africa Centre; curated by Barbara Murray; from the collection of Robert Loder of the Triangle Arts Trust; catalogue edited by Barbara Murray, John Picton.. London: Africa Centre, 2005. 128pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. (page 126). N7391.7.T73 2005 AFA. OCLC 60708175.

The name Robert Loder looms large over the field of contemporary African art and rightfully so. The workshop movement launched and navigated by Triangle Arts Trust with Loder at the helm looks back now on twenty years in Africa beginning with the Thupelo Workshop in Johannesburg in 1985. Following on from that was Pachipamwe (Zimbabwe), Thapong (Botswana), Mbile (Zambia), Tulipamwe (Namibia), Ujamaa (Mozambique) and other art workshops outside the southern African region. Throughout, patron Number One was Loder himself, who in retrospect has built an impressive art collection from works, as he puts it, “I...bumped into during 20 years of involvement with art making in Africa” (page 17). Loder perceptively observes that these art works would not likely be selected for international biennials nor do they follow global art trendiness. They are true to their context, and he values them in part because he knows their creators. Sixty artists are represented in the catalog, the majority of whom are not well known. The exhibition took place January 19-March18, 2005 at The Brunei Gallery (School of Oriental and African Studies) London in association with The Africa Centre, London.