Johannes Phokela

Nina Holmes

Johannes Phokela is a South African artist born in Soweto in 1966. He began his formal art career in 1984 at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) Academy in Johannesburg, where he obtained a three-year diploma. In 1987, he moved to London, where he completed a year-long foundation course at Central St. Martins: University of the Arts London before acquiring a bachelor’s degree at Camberwell College of Art: University of the Arts London (1988). He then completed a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art (1993) and returned permanently to South Africa in 2006.

Phokela has established a distinguished career both locally and internationally. He played an advisory role in establishing The Bag Factory, Johannesburg (1990) and was awarded the prestigious year-long residency at Delfina Studio Trust, London (1993). He was also one of the founding members of the Gasworks Studios, London (1994 – 2005), producing studio work as well as participating in the International Residency Programme. He did volunteer work for The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1995 and led to his participation in a residency programme in Senegal through the British Council (1997). He is a recipient of the Decibel Award from the Arts Council of England (2004).

Select Exhibitions:

  • 2nd Johannesburg Biennale titled Trade Routes: History and Geography, Johannesburg (1997)
  • Unpacking Europe, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2001)
  • Figure of, Battersea Pump House, London (2001)
  • International touring exhibition commissioned by the Institute of International Visual Arts (INIVA) in collaboration with The Gallery, Cafe Gallery Projects, London (2002)
  • Age of Enlightenment, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg (2003)
  • Personal Effects, Museum for African Art and The Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York (2004)
  • Tremor, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Charleroi, Brussels (2004)
  • Landlord of the Lion, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, London (2005)
  • Imagine Where You’ll Be, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg (2005)
  • Translation, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg (2006)
  • Body of Evidence, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. (2006)
  • Erase Me From Who I Am: Elvieda Quin Soy, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas (2006)
  • New Painting at the KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts in Durban, UNISA Art Gallery in Pretoria and Johannesburg Art Gallery in Johannesburg (2006)
  • Compendium, KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts, Durban (2007)
  • I Love My Neighbours, a notable retrospective at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg (2009)
  • Collateral, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein (2012)
  • Represented in the South African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2013)
  • A World Sacred and Profane, Gallery AOP, Johannesburg (2015)
  • Still (the) Barbarians, EVA Limerick Open, Limerick (2016)
  • FNB Art Joburg, Eclectica Contemporary, (2022)
  • Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Eclectica Contemporary, (2022)
  • Akka, Paris France, Eclectica Contemporary, (2022)
  • Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Eclectica Contemporary, (2023)

Select Works:

Muse of the night out on the edge of a Dreamer’s field, 2023 Oil on Canvas 225 x 160 cm

Muse of the night out on the edge of a Dreamer’s field, 2023 Oil on Canvas 225 x 160 cm


Johannes-Phokela- Salon-Candle-Bathing-Series-2022 42-X-59.4-cm oil-on-paper


Johannes-Phokela_Ukuthwala_-Honeymoon-2022-59.4-x 42 cm oil-on-paper


Johannes-Phokela Judgement-of-Paris-2022 42-X-59.4-cm oil-on-paper

Nina Holmes Traces (series)

Johannes-Phokela-Upstart-and-a-Blowout-2022-Diptych-59.4-x-42 cm oil-on-paper

Nina Holmes Traces (series) 2020 mixed media on canvas 55.5 x 70 cm

Johannes-Phokela-Upstart-and-a-Blowout-2022-Diptych-59.4-x-42 cm oil-on-paper