Investec Cape Town Art Fair is about to start, could you give us an overview of the upcoming edition? What is the latest news and could you tells about the fair’s special projects?
The Investec Cape Town Art Fair is the largest fair in Africa and for this upcoming edition will feature 107 exhibitors from across the globe. Owned by Fiera Milano, one of the largest multinational trade fair company in the world, the fair has grown exponentially over the last few years. A third of the exhibitors due to showcase will be new to the event, and more than 50% from the rest of the world. We have an influx of new international galleries from Africa participating for the first time in our prestigious Main section including Yosr Ben Ammar Gallery and AGORGI both from Tunisia, Jahmek Contemporary Art from Angola and Galerie Veronique Rieffel from Ivory Coast. Their participation strengthens one of the fair’s goals to provide a platform for more voices from the African continent.
We are also excited to announce a first-time collaboration with Nkule Mabaso and Luigi Fassi who will co-curate Tomorrows/Today in a cross-section of the most exciting and emerging artists from Africa and other continents such as North America, Middle East and Europe. Prior to her current position as Adjunct Curator at Tate, Portia Malatjie was appointed as a guest curator to interpret space as the thematic focus for SOLO. The section will once again highlight experimental practices of a number of emerging and established artists from around the world. Leading galleries specialising in Modern and historical works from South Africa will once again return to the Past Modern section with Joao Ferriera as guest curator of the section. We will present an exciting special project with Southern Guild whom we are also delighted to showcase. Lastly, running alongside the Fair is ART.DOC, a Film Screening programme offering audiences art documentaries.
What have been some of your personal highlights or challenges during your career as Director of Investec Cape Town Art Fair over the last few years?
It is a big responsibility indeed to grow the fair to an international standard. To make Investec Cape Town Art Fair one of the not-to-be-missed appointments in the international art fairs calendar and “THE” fair in the continent means to create an inherently consistent space that caters for galleries, artists, collectors and visitors. My very first challenge, as we are part of a quite prolific art ecosystem, is to develop and strengthen the collaboration between local institutions, museums and cultural associations. To make Cape Town ‘the place to be’ in February has been also part of my highlights; the next step will be to grow our educational programme. We need to be innovative and intriguing to attract more exhibitors and collectors from the world. The key for this is passion.
Cape Town is a vibrant cultural hub attracting international collectors and amateurs from the continent and from overseas. Could you tell us about the city’s art scene?
Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, a city with a blend of many different and distinct vibrant cultures, which makes it also one of the most multicultural cities in the world. The local art scene has grown greatly: experimental youth culture, innovative project spaces, a dense concentration of major galleries and institutions showcasing diverse, cutting edge and provocative artworks rich in culture and heritage. The recent launch of the Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, a world-class museum showing large collections of contemporary African art and architecturally unique Norval Foundation with its spectacular natural setting showing 21st-century visual art from South Africa has also sparked a lot of attention internationally. All of these factors combined make Cape Town a compelling destination for artists, curators, gallerists and collectors.
Which main contemporary art spaces you would recommend visiting while in Cape Town? What’s on during the fair?
All our local galleries are worth a visit: Stevenson, Goodman, Blank, Smac, Whatiftheworld, Momo, Everard Read and more, Smith, Christopher Moller, Barnard, Loop 99, Eclectica, Salon 91, Worldart, Wall, Ebony, THK, Southern Guild. Iziko South African National Gallery has a group show titled “Matereality” and another exhibition titled “This song is for” by Gabrielle Goliath. The Norval Foundation presents a William Kentridge exhibition titled “Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture” and they are also showing “The Accomplice” by Michael Armitage and Collectors Focus V, a focus on the Collection of Hoosein Mohammed. Zeitz MOCAA will be showing Abdoulaye Konate, Otobong Nkanga’s “Acts at the Crossroads”, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Laying Bare and William Kentridge, “Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work”. The Maitland Institute has an artist-in-residence, Jared Ginsburg and at the A4 Arts Foundation, there will be an exhibition by Kevin Beasley.
How would you describe contemporary art in South Africa and its position amongst the international art communities?
The art landscape in South Africa is rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, it is dynamic and innovative. South Africa’s history of art ranges from the representation of religious and spiritual beliefs of the San people, resistance and protest art from the apartheid period, to very politically charged and culturally vibrant contemporary African Art.
The opening of many major commercial galleries helped establish Cape Town as an art destination in the global arena. The growing calibre of local artists producing quality work and fetching respectable prices at prominent art fairs and auction houses has significantly increased globally as a result. Of particular interest internationally is “Struggle Art” but there is also a sense of growing interest in contemporary African art – and these artworks are being acquired by renowned institutions, public and private collectors. South Africa is still finding itself in the global art market but you can’t deny the growing interest and appreciation of African artists, scholars and curators at international platforms.