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Ernest Mancoba Symposium: A dialogue on his art and words
Research 11 February 2020
Event photograph from the Ernest Mancoba Symposium at A4 Arts Foundation. At the front, audience members are seated in rows. In the middle, two speakers are seated facing the audience. At the back, posters of artworks and text line a white wall.
Event: Ernest Mancoba Symposium, February 11, 2020. Image courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation.
Title Ernest Mancoba Symposium: A dialogue on his art and words Dates 11 February 2020 Location Ground Floor Tagline A symposium brings experts from Denmark, the USA, France and South Africa together to talk about the work and life of Ernest Mancoba in recognition of the critical evaluation that his contribution to the canon demands. Credits

Winnie Sze
Nomusa Makhubu 

heeten bhagat

Dr Chika Okeke-Agulu
Dr Karen Kurcynzki
Dr Luvuyo Wotshela
Dr Nomusa Makhubu
Dorthe Aagesen
Dr Same Mdluli
Alicia Knock
Jaco van Schalkwyk
Sean O’Toole
Thembinkosi Goniwe
Wilhelm Van Rensburg

Musical performance by:
Derek Gripper

Performance response orchestrated by Thembinkosi Goniwe:
Herbie Tsoaeli on double bass
Silvia Mdunyelwa, vocals
Amy Klaasen, dance

Strauss & Co
The South African National Research Foundation (NRF)
ITOO Art Insure
The Estate of Ferlov Mancoba

One of the main objectives of the conference was to reintroduce the artist back to the country of his birth, following his life living and working in Europe. Another was to widen the pool of knowledge about, and understanding of, the artist by thinking about themes raised by his work; the relationship between African and European modernism, Mancoba’s influence on other artists, how perceptions of him have changed throughout time, especially in the years following his death. The symposium was co-convened by Winnie Sze and Nomusa Makhubu and hosted by A4, originally in tandem with a 2019 Mancoba retrospective that was to be shown at A4. 

Curating the first retrospective of Ernest Mancoba's work in Paris at the Centre Pompidou in June 2019, Alicia Knock writes, "Ernest Mancoba is an unclassifiable artist, as witnessed by the scope of his historical career, his transnational trajectory through societies that were repressive or not very open to a black man having an autonomous career and a visual language half-way between figuration and abstraction..."

Born in 1904 in Johannesburg, Ernest Mancoba earned his BA from the University of Fort Hare. He left South Africa in 1938 for Paris, where he studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs. He married the Danish artist Sonja Ferlov in 1942 while interned in a labour camp in St Denis. In 1947, Ernest and Sonja moved to Denmark, where they became members of the CoBrA group of abstract artists. Mancoba died in 2002 in France.