J O A C H I M    S C H ö N F E L D T

Click on the links below the thumbnails to view the full image with cataloguing
For more information on the artist, see below

Untitled (Five Heads and Castle)

Foreign and Local Trees

Long Shadows (Blue)

Long Shadows (Yellow)

Long Shadows (Red)

Artist's statement

'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
Massachusetts in the States and in Vancouver in Canada. He has also exhibited in Paris, Berlin, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Porto, Glasgow, Turin, Umea, Sierre, Graz, Salzburg and Copenhagen in Europe. He represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale and at the Sao Paulo Biennale and participated in both Johannesburg Biennales.

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.
He is one of the founding artists of the Fordsburg Artists Studios where he has a studio.


2000    Document, Urban Future, Museum Africa, Johannesburg.
            Translation / Seduction / Displacement, curated by Lauri Firstenberg & John Peffer, White Box, New York (catalogue)

1999    mirror's edge, curated by Okwul Enwezor, BildMuseet, Umeä University, Umeä (catalogue)
            Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Queens Hotel, Oudtshoorn. (catalogue)

1998    blank___, Hilton Judin & Ivan Vladislavi? Rotterdam> (catalogue)
            Democracy's Images, CURATED BY Jan-Erik Lundström, BitdMuseet, Umeä. (catalogue)

1997    Silence/, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
            Alternating Currents, curators: Okwul Enwezor & Octavio Zaya, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, (catalogue and short guide)

1995    Hitchiker, curated by Clive Kellner, Johannesburg
            "Inclusion/Exclusion", curated by Peter Welbel, Graz (catalogue)
            "Don't Mess with Mister Inbetween", curated by Ruth Rosengarten, Lisbon (catalogue)
            "Mals do que Ver:, curated by João Fernandes, Porto (catalogue)
            Colours, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (catalogue)

1995      "Eight from South Africa", CURATED BY Renny Pritikin, Center for the Arts, San Fransicso
            Joachim Schönfeldt at BCI fine Art, Johannesburg
            Johannesburg Biennale, Frech show curated by Jean-Hubert Martin
            "Outside Inside", Johannesburg Biennale, curated by Julia Charlton (catalogue)

1994     22nd São Paulo Biennale (catalogue), "We are Johannesburg Artists and Nothing More" (with Kendell Geers) Michaelis Art Gallery, Cape Town
            "Air de Paris", Two Person exhibition    (with Kendell Geers) at Everard Read Contemporary. Market Theatre Gallery & ICA, Johannesburg
            Un Art Contemporain D'Afrique du Sud", curated by Jean-Yves Jouannais, Paris (catalogue)., "State of the Art", Everard Read Contemporary, Johannesburg

1993     "The New Patron", Two Person Exhibition (with Kendall Geers) Everard Read Contemporary, Johannesburg
            "Zuiderkruis: 27 Artists from South Africa", Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam    (catalogue). "South African Art", Sala 1, Rome. "Incroci del Sud", 45th Venice Biennale, (Italy) (catalogue).

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
Cityscape Johannesburg, Interview with Lauri Firstenberg. Flash Art, Oct., 1999
Inclusion/Exclusion: Art in the Age of Post-Colonialism and Global Migration, Thomas Mulcaire, Nka, Summer/Fall 1997.
Inclusion/Exclusion: Art in the age of Global Migration and Postcolonialism, Okwul Enwezor, Frieze, March/April 1997
Aperto: A Fake Interview or What We Think They Said, Lorna Ferguson and Thomas Mulcair, Flash Art, Summer 1986 p 89
Moving In, Ikwui Enwezor & Octavio Zaya, Flash Art International, Jan/Feb 1996

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