Sean O’Toole reflects on the market for art from Africa, how our South African galleries and art fairs are performing, and everything Armory 2016:
For much of the past two decades, the standard pathway to international success for a local artist has been through exposure at a biennale. Art fairs are now beginning to play a similar role. In turn, art is changing to reflect this system of patronage.
Just as there is a category of work pejoratively spoken of as “biennale work” (think sprawling in form, anti-consumerist in material, left-leaning in ideological compass), so fairs are sponsoring a new kind of art. The worst examples are simply ersatz financial instruments dressed up as clever interior design. But art fairs are also spaces of possibility.