Riason Naidoo was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1970. He holds a BA and MA in fine art from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Naidoo has been on scholarships to the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, in India (1997), and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Bordeaux, in France (2001).
Naidoo has curated several photographic exhibitions on the themes of memory and identity—most notably one on the work of veteran South African photographer Ranjith Kally, which appeared widely across South Africa and traveled to Mali, Austria, Spain and France. In 2006, he curated The Indian in DRUM Magazine in the 1950s, from archival negatives in the Bailey’s African History Archive (BAHA), and in 2008 published a book by the same name. In 2012, he co-produced and co-directed a documentary based on the same research, entitled Legends of the Casbah, which premiered at the 33rd Durban International Film Festival.
In 2010, Naidoo curated 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, which showcased a century of South African art, at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, where he is currently director. Two years later, he was one of the co-curators of the tenth edition of the Dak’art Biennale in Senegal. Previously, he directed the South Africa-Mali Project: Timbuktu Manuscripts, and he has also coordinated artistic projects at the French Institute of South Africa, taught drawing, painting and art history at the University of Witwatersrand, and worked as an education officer at the Durban Art Gallery.