Lhola Amira, Lagom: Breaking Bread with The Self-Righteous, 2017
Lhola Amira, Lagom: Breaking Bread with The Self-Righteous, 2017
Image: Supplied

1. NEWCOMERS, NEW APPROACHES

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair is enjoying a growth spurt. It’s inevitable that with the international interest in contemporary African art, overseas galleries would make the journey south to fully comprehend our practices at their source, and to bring their artists to a new audience. This year we welcome no less than 12 galleries from the Northern hemisphere, as well as one from “down under”. At the art fair, you can stroll through the art world seeing what’s on offer from our new guests: 50 Golborne (London), Alida Anderson Art Projects (Washington DC), Amar Gallery (London), Ed Cross Fine Art (London), Frittelli Arte Contemporanea (Firenze), Galerija Gregor Podnar (Berlin), Galleria Giovanni Bonelli (Milan), Mov’Art (Luanda), Officine dell’Immagine (Milan), Perrotin (Paris, Hong Kong, New York), This is No Fantasy + Dianne Tanzer Gallery (Melbourne), This is Not a White Cube (Luanda) and the Tyburn Gallery (London).

2. WOMEN FROM ASIA MEET AFRICA

This year the art fair inaugurates a new section we’ve titled “Solo”. To kick things off, we’ve invited Nontobeko Ntombela to curate a section that will look at the practices of women from different echelons and countries. The main focuses will be on Ntombela’s work on deceased artist Gladys Mgudlandlu, and local artist Reshma Chhiba’s look at sexuality in The Two Talking Yonis. This opens the way for a dialogue with women practitioners from Asia. Here, visitors should look out for the Amar Gallery from London, which focuses on women and activism with an emphasis on Asia. In the Solo section, this gallery will present the well-known Indian artist Parul Thacker, whose work incorporates the practices of textile manufacture and weaving.

3. WELCOME AUSTRALIA

 “We are part of a larger ecosystem, so it’s only right that we engage with our partners in Cape Town”

Identity, memory, and history come together in this curated exhibition within the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, titled Tomorrows/Today. This year marks the first time that the exhibition will incorporate artists from beyond the African continent. Of interest here is one of Australia’s most significant artists of Aboriginal descent, Jacqui Stockdale. Her humorous photographic portraits, imbued with mystery and the interrogation of history, will resonate with anyone who has followed the work of Zanele Muholi, Ayana V Jackson, and Kudzanai Chiurai. Stockdale will be at the booth of This is No Fantasy + Dianne Tanzer gallery of Melbourne.

4. THE BIG PICTURE

This year’s focus on women practitioners shows how paths are being forged in the telling of narratives, old and new. Created environments by three artists will allow visitors to experience installations outside the gallery booth context. Sethembile Msezane performed at Documenta14 on the Kassel and Athens platforms, Lungiswa Gqunta has a major installation at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocaa), and Turiya Magadlela won the FNB Art Prize in 2015.

5. NEW-LOOK PERFORMANCE

With the international focus on performance, this year the art fair celebrates the medium with an inventive, parade-like staging by the multidisciplinary Thania Petersen, represented by Everard Read Gallery. Petersen’s carnivalesque work has been staged in Cape Town, London, and South Korea. The work will incorporate about 20 performers of all ages and genders, and will feature sound and instruments. Its theme will reflect on the renowned Cape Town New Year parade.

6. WOMEN WITHOUT BORDERS

The title is taken from a group exhibition that featured the work of Ugandan Stacey Gillian Abe in Kinshasa in 2014. The category includes African women who have used performance in their work, not necessarily to transcend physical borders, but to overcome material and physical constraints and to integrate the spiritual into their practice. The erotic, mysticism, women’s work, and the culturally specific come together in the art of Abe (represented by Afriart Gallery), Nigerian-American Wura-Natasha Ogunji (in the Tomorrows/Today section and represented by 50 Golborne Gallery) and Maïmouna Guerresi of Senegal and Italy (represented by Officine dell’Immagine Contemporary Art Gallery).

7. ART OF THE BOOK

The art fair provides an opportunity to take stock of new literature about some of our pioneering talent. If you are not in the market for investor artworks, then literature about local art history is also collectible — and increases in value over time. Two recent titles written by women in academia spring to mind: Sandra Kloppers’ Are you Still Alive?, about the correspondence of Irma Stern, and a study of William Kentridge’s opera direction, Being Led by the Nose, by Jane Taylor. These will be available at the Clarke’s Books stand.

8. TALK ISN’T CHEAP

The talks’ platform is an aspect of art fairs that people love, particularly since the public discourse around art production is at times lacking on home turf. This year’s topics include the differences in collecting and exhibiting through public museums or private collections. Reference will be made to Spain, Hong Kong, and other locales. Other topics include From Private Collections to Museums, Curatorial Perspectives, Art as Investment, Women in Art, Non-Profit Art Organisations, and the live arts.

9. MEN

The importance of focusing on women’s work does not exclude the work of male artists. Men dealing with sensitive topics such as patriarchy, militarisation, and migration include Lawrence Lemaoana, represented by Afronova Gallery, who will present a new, large textile work influenced by African kanga designs in a similar vein to one presented at last year’s 1-54 African Contemporary African Art Fair in London. The work will no doubt reflect on the controversies of President Jacob Zuma. Look out for the photography of Mozambican Mário Macilau, represented by Ed Cross Fine Art on the Tomorrows/Today platform, as well as the pop- and graffiti-inspired works of Angolan Januario Jano, represented by This is Not a White Cube of Luanda.

10. OFF SITE

As an art-fair organiser, it’s important to realise we are part of a larger ecosystem, so it’s only right that we engage with our partners in Cape Town. See a selection of major works by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui at the Iziko South African National Gallery, courtesy of the Goodman Gallery. And don’t miss a retrospective of video art works selected by Brent Maistre from Analogue Eye, which will be shown in container spaces at theV&A Waterfront.

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair runs from 16 to 18 February at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. investeccapetownartfair.co.za

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