Staff Members

Home » Prof. David Paton

Associate Professor
Name: David Paton
Location: 128, FADA Building Bunting Road Campus
FADA Visual Art Permanent Academic Staff  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: +27(0)11 559 1118


About Prof. David Paton

Year Leader: 2nd Year

Module Leader: Drawing

Lectures in:

Drawing I, II & III

Studio Practice III & IV

Postgraduate Studies​​

Qualifications: BAFA (Wits); HDip.ED (PG) (Wits); MAFA (Wits); Cert HEd.Man (Wits); PhD (Sunderland, UK)

Short Biography:

David Paton is an Associate Professor and past (2004 – 2009) head of the Department of Visual Art at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa where he teaches Drawing and Studio Practice at all undergraduate levels. He has also supervised over 20 postgraduate students, six of whom have received the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal for Meritorious Postgraduate Study. He is also appointed as a Senior Researcher in the Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts (JGCBA), Wits Art Museum (WAM), University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. He received his MAFA at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2001 with a dissertation titled ‘South African Artists’ Books and Book-objects Since 1960’ and his PhD by Existing Published or Creative Work – awarded with no additions or corrections required – from the University of Sunderland, UK in 2019. David has curated numerous exhibitions of the book arts in South Africa and headed the curatorial team which hosted the ‘Booknesses’ exhibitions and colloquium – showcasing both the internationally renowned Jack Ginsberg Collection of Artists’ Books as well as South African book art – at the University of Johannesburg in 2017. In 2019, David curated ‘Samplings: South African Artists’ Books’ to inaugurate the JGCBA, Wits University, and was invited to speak at two prestigious conferences in Berkeley, CA and Bremen, Germany. David has authored numerous catalogues of artist’s book exhibitions, some of which are to be found in prestigious library collections including the Tate Library and Archive, the National Art Library, London, Oxford University and the University of London; Bibliotheque Nationale de France; Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Den Haag, Netherlands; Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Cornell, Stanford and Princeton Universities, the Getty Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the Thomas J. Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress, USA. He has also published a number of articles and chapters on the book arts in local and international journals and publications. David is a peer reviewer for the journal de Arte and for NRF rated researcher and creative output applications and is a member of the Editorial and Review Committee for the publication ‘Artist’s Book Year Book’ (ABYB), UWE, Bristol, UK. His artworks are held in local and international collections including the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, the MTN Collection, Anglo-American Corporation Collection, the Sasol Collection, the Art Bank SA Collection and the Lower East Side Print Cabinet, New York. His artist’s book ‘Speaking in Tongues: Speaking Digitally / Digitally Speaking’ can be found in the collection of the Jack Ginsberg Center for Book Arts, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, the San Francisco Center for the Book, USA, the Templeman Library, Canterbury, UK and the von Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. In conjunction with the JGCBA, University of the Witwatersrand, he co-hosts the website ‘Artists’ Books in South Africa’ that received the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) award for Digital Humanities in 2018. He is twice the recipient of the Ampersand Foundation Fellowship to New York (1999 & 2017) and was awarded the University of Johannesburg Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Teaching Excellence in 2022. David is a National Research Foundation (NRF) C1-Rated Scholar. He is also the father of two sons.

CV: Access here

Recent Publications:

  • 2022. Three essays in Materialia Lumina; Contemporary Artists’ Books from the CODEX International Book Fair. Stanford Libraries, Stanford University and the CODEX Foundation, Berkeley CA. January 2022. ISBN 978 0 911221 65 7
  • Wolfgang Buchta (pp 227-230)
  • Felicia Rice, Moving Parts Press (pp 267-271)
  • Francoise Despalles and Johannes Strugella, Despalles Editions (pp 338-342).
  • 2022. Journal article. On the Making of Re: A Negotiated Truth. Parenthesis 42 Journal of the Fine Book Association, UK. Spring 2022 pp4-9. ISSN 1462-9895.
  • 2020. Journal article. The Bookness of a Book: Cataloguing Affect in South African Artists’ Books. Library Trends 68(3):521-548. Winter 2020. Johns Hopkins University Press, USA. DOI: 10.1353/lib.2020.0004
  • 2017. Exhibition catalogue. Booknesses: Artists’ books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection. Published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name, organised and curated by David Paton at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery, 25 March – 5 May. Published by the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg. ISBN 978-0-86970-796-8.
  • 2017. Exhibition catalogue chapter. “Simultaneous journeys: Thematics in the curating of Booknesses: Artists’ Books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection”. In: Booknesses: Artists’ books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection, Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Pp 18-61. ISBN 978-0-86970-796-8.
  • 2017. Exhibition catalogue. Artists’ books from the Ginsberg Collection, with some South African examples from other collections. Special edition of the original 1996 catalogue published by the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Published on the occasion of thee exhibition, Booknesses: Artists’ books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection, University of Johannesburg and The Ampersand Foundation (TAF), Johannesburg.
  • 2017. Exhibition catalogue. Booknesses: Contemporary South African artists’ books. Online catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name, organised and curated by David Paton, Eugene Hön and Gordon Froud, FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, 24 March – 5 May.
  • 2016. Journal article. Mind & matter: Some South African book-artist’s experiences with ‘other’ materials. In: The New Bookbinder, Journal of Designer Bookbinders, Bath, UK. No 36. Pp. 57-62.
  • 2016. Exhibition catalogue chapter. Matisse and the book arts. In: Henri Matisse Rhythms and Meaning. Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 13 July – 17 September 2016. Pp 117-127. ISBN 978-0-620-68813-0.
  • 2015. Journal article. Dark absurdity: Re-reading the work of Gordon Froud. In: De Arte, Taylor & Francis, University of South Africa. 2015 no 91. Pp. 39-62. ISSN 0004-3389.
  • 2014. Exhibition catalogue. TEXTures: An exhibition of texts, textures and structures in artists’ books. Published in conjunction with the exhibition held at the Archives & Special Collections, Library and Information Centre, Doornfontein Campus, University of Johannesburg. ISBN: 978-0-86970-779-0.
  • 2013. Journal article. Stimulus/Response: Scratching away at some intrinsic and extrinsic problems in theorising the artist’s book from the far end of a ‘not-so-dark continent. In: Artist’s Book Yearbook 2014-2015,CFPR, UWE, Bristol, UK. September 2013. Pp. 37-43. ISBN 978-1-906501-07-5.
  • 2012. Journal article. Towards a theoretical underpinning of the book arts: Applying Bakhtin’s Dialogism and Heteroglossia to selected examples of the artist’s book. In: Literator, North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. 2012 33(1) 2012 ISSN 0258-2279. DOI:
  • 2011. Essay. Artists’ books as interpretive acts. In: Transgressions and boundaries of the page. North West University. Pp 22-25. ISBN: 978-0-620-50283-2. Available:
  • 2010. Journal article. The imagistic text in Jonathan Safran Foer: Tracing unconventional texts from Kerouac to the artist’s book. In: De Arte, Taylor & Francis, University of South Africa 2010 no 81. ISSN 0004-3389. Available: =6&tname=tblComponent2&oname=&pg=research&app=&flt=academic
  • 2010. Article. The Book as a community of practice: Some thoughts on the research project A manifesto for the book: What will be the canon for the artist’s book in the 21st century?. In: On Making. Integrating Approaches to Practice Led Research in Art and Design. University of Johannesburg, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD), FADA, University of Johannesburg. ISBN: 978-0-620-49738-1. Available: &oname=&pg=research&app=&flt=other
  • 2009. Article. Ideologies and identity in digital artists’ books: Parallels between Charles Sandison’s Carmina Figurata at Blood on Paper, V&A, London and Willem Boshoff’s Kykafrikaans. Peer-reviewed conference proceedings. In: Imaging Ourselves: Visual Identities in Representation. Research Centre: Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD), FADA, University of Johannesburg. Pp66-83. Available: &oname=&pg=research&app=&flt=other
  • 2008. Journal article. Body, Light, Interaction, Sound: A critical reading of a recent installation of Willem Boshoff’s Kykafrikaans.In: Image & Text.University of Pretoria. 2008 no 14 ISSN 1020 1497. Available:
  • 2007. Journal article. The sound of a book: Sound as generator of narrative in the reception of selected new media objects as books. In: Image & Text. University of Pretoria. 2007 no 13 ISSN 1020 1497. Available:
  • 2006. Exhibition catalogue. Navigating the bookscape: Artists’ books and the digital interface. Including essays by David Paton, Robyn Sassen & Jack Ginsberg. Available: and:

Recent Conference Papers / Public Lectures / Keynote Addresses: 

  • 2022. Conference paper. Glimpses of slippery slivers: Towards appropriate bibliographic description for artists’ books in South Africa. Archives of Print Culture in Southern Africa. 19-20 May. Blended Conference: online and The Rand Club, Johannesburg. University of Pretoria, Wits University & University College London.
  • 2019. Conference paper. Artists’ Books in South Africa: Archiving the Output of a Nation. At: Archives in Motion conference, Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen / Centre for Artists’ Publications, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany. 8 -10 November.
  • 2019. Conference paper. The Jack Ginsberg Collection of Artists’ Books: 25 years of Working with the Collection in South Africa. At: CODEX VII 2019. Symposium and Book Fair, Berkley, California, USA. 3 – 6 February.
  • 2018. Conference paper. “The shortcoming of this project is…”: reimagining the role of the artist’s book in South Africa. At: Troubling Legacies, South African Visual Arts Historians Conference, Stellenbosch University, 4 – 6 July.
  • 2017. Keynote address. Booknesses: The making of a project in 10 (or more) parts. Artists’ Books workshop and conference. Departments of Fine Art and Journalism, Rhodes University, Grahamstown. 15 – 17 September.
  • 2017. Public Lecture.Booknesses: Taking stock of the book arts in South Africa. The Center for Book Arts, New York. 10 May.
  • 2017. Conference paper. Simultaneous journeys: Relational thematics in curating the exhibition Booknesses: Artists’ Books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection. At: Booknesses: Taking stock of the book arts in South Africa, Colloquium organised by the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg. FADA Auditorium, 24 – 26 March.
  • 2015. Conference paper. A great idea at the time: Cataloguing South Africa’s artist’s book production. At: IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2015, Art Libraries Section, Turning the Tables: Documenting Art in a Global Context. Cape Town, South Africa. Thursday 20 August. Available:
  • 2013. Public lecture. Contemplating curiosities in selected recent exhibitions in the United Kingdom in 2013. Lecture #2 in the Contemplations Lecture Series: FADA Auditorium. University of Johannesburg. 29th October.
  • 2012. Keynote address. Anything, everything but conceptual art! At: Independent Examinations Board (IEB) art teachers’ annual conference. Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre, Johannesburg. 4 February.
  • 2012. Conference paper. Artists’ books and their aversion to theory: Applying Bakhtin’s dialogism and heteroglossia to selected examples of the artist’s book. At: Visual Dialogues: South Africa in Conversation. The 27th Annual South African Association of Visual Art Historians (SAVAH) Conference, University of South Africa, Pretoria, 4 – 7 July.
  • 2009. Conference paper. Towards an Understanding of What a South African Artist’s Book May Be. At: Transgressions and Boundaries of the Page, North West University, 4th March.
  • 2009. Conference paper. The contemporary novel and the artist’s book: A tentative tracing of shared and undermined conventions in selected examples of both. At: The politics of change: Looking backwards and forwards. The 25th Annual South African Association of Visual Art Historians (SAVAH) Conference. University of Pretoria, 9 – 11 July.
  • 2009. Colloquium paper. UJ’s MTech in Fine Art: An example of practice-led research. At: On Making: Integrating Approaches in Practice- Led Research in Art and Design. Colloquium; University of Johannesburg, Faculty of Art, Design and Architectures Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD), FADA, University of Johannesburg, 15 – 16 October 2009.
  • 2007. Conference paper. Navigating the bookscape: Artists’ books and the digital interface. At: 73rd IFLA World Library and Information Congress, Durban. 19 – 23 August. Available: _BOOKSCAPE_ARTISTS%27_BOOKS_AND_THE_DIGITAL_INTERFACE

Selected Curatorial Projects:

Selected Recent Exhibitions:

My Artworks appear in the following Collections:

  • Anglo-American Corporation, Johannesburg.
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Luciano Benetton Collection, Italy.
  • Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
  • The Jack Ginsberg Center for Book Arts, Wits Art Museum (WAM), Wits University, Johannesburg.
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
  • Lower Eastside Printshop Print Cabinet, New York.
  • Mary Austin Collection, San Francisco Centre for the Book, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • MTN Collection, Johannesburg.
  • Shumann Sasol Collection.
  • University of Johannesburg Collection, Johannesburg.
  • Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.
  • Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

 See my academic and professional profiles at: