'In my recent work I explore a specific working methodology that seems to be prevalent at the moment, which may be stated simply as 'how to animate dumb objects from found and sourced objects, artefacts, implements, ruins and so on. Where text is absent, the history of (African) oral societies is constructed '.
'In my work, I have tried to further the idea of objects as augmentation to speech, posing questions such as : 'In speech, when does a speaker revert to visuals?' I have also looked at oral cultures, the charismatic speaker and 'priority perspectives' - truth, and what people want that truth to be.'
'In my recent suite of four prints, I made reference to a set of sculptures that I have been working on. I have tried to imagine what the iconography of a pan-African religion might look like. There are four animals, all female: a lioness, a cow, an eagle and a peahen. The land animals have three heads and six legs, and the sky animals have three heads.'
Joachim Schonfeldt 2004
Statement on the prints
Prior to these prints being made, Schonfeldt worked on paper, using similar images embossed into the paper and coloured with oil paint, which was then sealed with a high gloss varnish. In a similar way, the four prints have been deeply embossed, so that sections of the image tantalise the viewer into questioning the two dimensionality of the printed surface. The images are then sealed with a clear ink varnish.
As in much of his work, Schonfeldt has included text in the prints. The slogan 'Authentic works of art and curios' brings up the notion of authenticity, which is a central concern of the artist. It also has a cynical ring to it, which can be understood within the context of contemporary art and craft production in Africa.
This suite of four prints was recently purchased by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Joachim Schönfeldt was born in Pretoria, but his family moved to Namibia just three weeks later. He completed his schooling in Namibia. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand in the early 1980s, he worked for Meneghelli Holdings as an advisor, curator and researcher in old African art, and then he became a full-time artist in 1988. In 1989 he worked and lived in Italy before settling in Johannesburg the following year, writing criticism for a local daily, and curating, but mostly practising art. In 2002 he taught art at The Ecole Cantonale d'Valais in Sierre, Switzerland.
Schönfeldt is a practising artist who have exhibited in New York, San Francisco and
In his career he has worked with curators such as: Okwui Enwezor (director of Documenta xi), Jean-Hubert Martin (past director of the Venice Biennale), Peter Weibel (past director of the Steirischer Herbst in Graz, Austria), Lauri Firstenberg (Independent curator in New York), Joao Fernandes (curator at the Seralves Foundation in Porto, Portugal), Julia Charlton (Wits Art Galleries), Lioba Reddeker (Basis Wien).
Articles on him and his work have been published in The New York Times Magazine, Flash Art, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Frieze, Atlantica and Modern Painters.
In 2001 he was short-listed for the Daimler Chrysler Award. His work is represented in various private and public collections, like MoMa, NY, The Smithsonian, University of the Witwatersrand Art Gallery and National Gallery, Cape Town.
With David Koloane and Patrick Mautloa he was an art advisor to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He was a trustee of the Johannesburg Art Foundation and alternative chair to the executive of the Friends of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
2000 Document, Urban Future, Museum Africa, Johannesburg.
1999 mirror's edge, curated by Okwul Enwezor, BildMuseet, Umeä University, Umeä (catalogue)
1998 blank___, Hilton Judin & Ivan Vladislavi? Rotterdam> (catalogue)
1997 Silence/, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
1995 Hitchiker, curated by Clive Kellner, Johannesburg
1995 "Eight from South Africa", CURATED BY Renny Pritikin, Center for the Arts, San Fransicso
1994 22nd São Paulo Biennale (catalogue), "We are Johannesburg Artists and Nothing More" (with Kendell Geers) Michaelis Art Gallery, Cape Town
1993 "The New Patron", Two Person Exhibition (with Kendall Geers) Everard Read Contemporary,
1992 "Art at the Radium", Radium Beer Hall, Johannesburg, "Other Possibilities, Newtown Galleries, Johannesburg.
1991 Pictures as History", Grahamstown Art Festival, & Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg (catalogue)
1990 "Art from South Africa", Touring Group Show, curated by David Elliot, United Kingdom.
1989 "Curios and Authentic Works of Art", Market Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg.
1988 Langerman Street, Johannesburg
1986 First One Person Show, Gallant House, Johannesburg
Mirror's Edge: An interview with curator Okwul Enwezore, Flash Art, March/April 2000