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Biographical Timeline



  • 1913
    Born 9 December at Lutheran Mission School at Botshabelo near Middelburg, Transvaal.
    Gerard Sekoto
  • 1918-19
    Moved to Wonderhoek Farm.

    Started to model in clay and drew on slate.

    Taught himself to use the Harmonium (first musical instrument)
  • 1928
    Begun training to be a teacher at Botshabelo Training Institute.

    Made first colour pencil drawings.

    Won first prize for designing a badge for the school blazer - rewarded with a bible and five shillings.
  • 1930
    Transferred to the Diocesan Training College (Grace Dieu) – Anglican training college for black school teachers, near Pietersburg (now Polokwane). Made portraits of fellow students.
    Gerard Sekoto
  • 1934
    Graduated and started teaching in the Primary department of the Khaiso Secondary School near Pietersburg.

    Started using watercolours.

    Nimrod Ndebele, Louis Makenna and Ernest Mancoba were his colleagues.
  • 1936
    Death of Sekoto’s father, Andreas
    Gerard Sekoto
  • 1937
    Won second prize in the ‘May Esther Bedford Art Competition’, organized by Fort Hare University College. First prize went to George Pemba
  • 1938-9
    Left teaching and moved to Sophiatown, Johannesburg to pursue career as full-time artist.

    Stayed with cousin and painted on brown wrapping paper with poster colours.

    Introduced to Brother Roger Castle from St Peter’s Secondary School who invited him to use the school premises as a studio and attend classes to stimulate the children artistically.

    Introduced to Joan Ginsberg of the Gainsborough Gallery as well as Judith Gluckman who taught Sekoto to use oil paints in her studio (illegal under the apartheid regime) and Alexis Preller who gave him his first tubes of oil paint. (Both members of the ‘New Group’
  • 1939
    Exhibited: Gainborough Gallery – along with some of Brother Roger’s students. Various works sold.

    20th Exhibition of the South African Art Academy (two works)
    Gerard Sekoto
  • 1940
    “Yellow Houses” bought by Johannesburg Art Gallery (first painting by a black artist acquired by the municipal gallery)

    Exhibited: South African Art Academy Exhibition
  • 1941
    Exhibited: South African Art Academy Exhibition
  • 1942
    Exhibitied: Gainsborough Gallery

    Moved to District Six, Cape Town. Rented a room with the Manuel family - organsied by Brother Roger. Opposite a prison on the outskirts of District 6.

    Introduced to other members of the ‘New Group’ - Lippy Lipshitz, Gregoire Boonzaier, Louis Maurice, Solly Disner, Walter Battiss

    Met Peter Clarke (painter), Paul Koston (art collector), Max Gordon (activist and art collector) and Anne and Nathan Jacobson (owners of ‘Modern Gifts’ – sold some of Sekoto’s paintings over the years)

    Exhibited: South African Art Academy Exhibition
  • 1943
    Exhibited: Fifth Anniversary Exhibition of the New Group at the Gainsborough Gallery
  • 1944
    Exhibited: Cape Town - a joint exhibition with the sculptor, Louis Maurice at the Jerome Gallery

    Exhibited: Cape Town - New Group Exhibition at the Argus Gallery
  • 1945
    Moved to Eastwood, Pretoria to live with Mother and stepfather, Paulus Jiyane

    Brother, Bernard, married Mary Dikeledi
  • 1946
    Exhibited: Gainsborough Gallery
  • 1947
    Exhibited: One-man Exhibition at The Christies Gallery, Pretoria 25 April - 12 May

    Exhibited: One-man Exhibition at the Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg

    Left for Paris, via London where he spent three weeks.

    In London met with Peter Abrahms (South African Writer) and Ben Enwonwu (Nigerian Sculptor) and various South African exiles
  • Exile
  • 1947-8
    Lived in a tiny room on the Île de Saint Louis previously inhabited by South African artist Eugene Labuschagne

    Attended drawing classes at de la Grande Chaumière, Montparnasse

    Met Wilson Tiberio (Brazilian exiled artist and political activist)

    Participated in the South African Touring Exhibition that opened at the Tate Gallery, London. (travelled from London to Belgium, France, Canada, USA, Netherlands – 1948/50)

    The Queen Mother reportedly admired “Sixpence a Door” and was photographed with it.

    Played piano in a bar in the Rue du Sommerard at night but moved later to a ‘lighter’ job at a Student ‘Café-bar’ during the early evening.

    Met the nephew of Léopold Sédar Senghor (famous African poet and soon to become president of Senegal) who promised to introduce Sekoto to his uncle.
  • 1948
    Moved to a hotel room in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

    Played the piano at night at L’échelle de Jacob (Jacob’s Ladder) – ‘Negro Spirituals’ / South African melodies / Jazz improvisations

    Met Raymond de Cardonne and his wife, Else-Clausen, owners of the Galerie Else-Clausen – consigned some of Sekoto’s work.

    Exhibited: One-man exhibition of 25 paintings at the French Colonial House, opened by W.C. Parminter, Minister of the South African Legation in Paris. Two paintings sold.

    Exhibited: Overseas Exhibition of South African Art travels to the Musée Galerie in Paris
  • 1949
    Exhibited: One-man exhibition at Galerie Else-Clausen, Paris

    Articles on Sekoto appeared in Time magazine (8 August 1949, October 1949)

    Spent two months in St Anne's Asylum after a period of psychological distress

    Moved to an apartment owned by Marthe Baillon, arranged by Raymond de Cardonne, 15 Rue des Grands Augustins
  • 1950
    Exhibited: One-man exhibition at the Vincent Gallery (Christies Gallery), Pretoria
  • 1951
    Exhibited: Stockholm, Sweden at Galerie Rålambshof with five other artists.
  • 1952
    Exhibited: Galerie Heyrene with Michel-Marie Puolin and Phillipe Marie Picard

    Exhibited: One-man exhibition at the Galerie Saint Placide

    Exhibited: Van Riebeeck Exhibition, Cape Town
  • 1954
    Exhibited: lD Bookseller's Gallery, Church Square, Cape Town
  • 1955
    Exhibited: Petit Palais, Paris

    Exhibited: Galerie de Paris, Vichy
  • 1956
    Exhibited: Galerie Art Premier, Paris
  • 1957
    Contributed article for Presence Africaine - June/September 1957 “A South African Artist”
  • 1959
    Invited to attend and address the Second Conference of ‘Negro’ Writers and Artists organized by Présence Africaine. Designed poster and spoke on “Responsibility and Solidarity in African Culture”.
  • 1960
    Took part in the Salon d’Automne
  • 1961
    Exhibited: Galleria Santo Stefano, Venice
  • 1964
    Exhibition of African paintings at Nemours, France.

    One of seven prizes awarded to Sekoto
  • 1966
    Exhibited: The First Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal
  • 1967
    Exhibited: Theatre Daniel Sorano, Senegal
  • 1968
    Exhibited: South African Association of Arts, Pretoria (opened by J le Grand, Delegue Generale de l’Alliance Francaise) 10 - 22 December

    Exhibited: Senegalese Embassy, Paris

    Diplome Officiel at XIX Prix International de Peinture de Deauville

    Exhibited: Galerie Marthe Nochy, Paris
  • 1969
    Exhibited: Christiane Colin Galerie, Île de Saint Louis 22 October – 7 November
  • 1970
    Exhibited: Galeri BB – Denmark

    Exhibited: Galerie Randers, Stockholm
  • 1973
    Exhibited: Galerie du Marais, Paris
  • 1975
    Exhibited: Atlantic Gallery, Burg Street, Cape Town
  • 1978
    Exhibited: Galerie Art Premier, Paris
  • 1980
    Exhibited: Maison de l’Afrique, Paris
  • 1983
    Car Accident: remained at l’Hôpital Duypuytren until the end of 1986
  • 1986
    Exhibited: young South African Artists, Paris

    Exhibited: “Voices in Exile”

    Participated in a touring Exhibition of South African Artists in exile: Washington DC, USA

    Slides shown at Maison Francaise, Oxford, 14-15 November l’Afrique Australe et la France “Sekoto” presented by Professor Daniel Bach
  • 1987
    Moved to La Maison Internationale des Artistes, Nogent-sur-Marne
  • 1988
    Exhibited: Rheinhold Cassirer Gallery, Johannesburg (February)

    Exhibited: Paris and South African Artists 1850 – 1965 South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • 1989
    Retrospective exhibition at JAG