We were at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair in 2013, and every year since. It’s always a highlight on our calendar. 8 editions the line and the fair is bigger, jam packed with great art and the center of a flurry of orbiting events. We’re putting a spotlight on the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, pulling out some of what is making us excited.
We love a good documentary film, and this year’s fair is hosting a series of screenings at Cape Town’s favourite old lady, The Labia. Saturday is scheduled with films from Italy: look out for the one on Arte Povera (which as we’ll see in a bit, is a major theme at the fair). Sunday is dedicated to local production. Local mavericks Art Meets TV is showing features on Simon Stone and Penny Siopis, our founding editor Sue Williamson has her Pleased to Meet You, and Craig Cameron-Mackintosh directs a feature on the inimitable Billy Monk. See all the show times here.
Half of art is what we see on the walls and floors, the other half is the discourse that legitimises, reifies and criticises it. The talks programme addresses this second aspect. We’re looking forward to the Sharlene Khan chaired panel on female black subjectivity called intriguingly Constructing Landscapes of Probabilities. Museums and platforms are also central to today’s shifting art economies. Two talks will delve into this crucial conversation: Museums in the 21st Century and The Quest for Sustainable Art Platforms. See the full programme here.
The city doesn’t rest while the fair is up: Friday night is Gallery Night. On Gallery Night, Cape Town’s galleries will be open, and showing special programmes. The Investec Cape Town Art Fair will be sending busses around to five cultural hotspots in and around the city, and you can jump on if you have a valid fair ticket. The evening will culminate in two afterparties, at SMAC and Greatmore, where you can fuel up, bust a move and chat to the early hours.
Arte Povera was an Italian and global art movement in the 60s. Literally translated as ‘poor art’, it’s central tenets were a blurring of the boundaries between life and art, and a use of cheap, everyday or readymade materials. Two of the founding members, Mario Merz and Michelangelo Pistoletto will be exhibited by Gallery Giorgio Persano. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye out for traces of Arte Povera across the fair, and to see how this influential movement has been mutated and adapted in a local context.
The Tomorrows Today section of the fair highlights artists who are the bright lights of tomorrow. And curiously, many of the artists on this section of the fair have a distinctive Arte Povera tang. Nnenna Okore, represented by Sakhile&Me, makes abstract sculptures from textiles and organic materials. Her intricately woven and dyed works seem to grow and decay on the intersection of verdant life and human industry. We’re looking forward to a concentrated dose.
Also both on the Arte Povera spectrum, and featured in Tomorrows Today is Bonolo Kavula, represented by Suburbia Contemporary. Her lofi and densely layered approach to printmaking and sculpture, as well as a keen wit, make her one to watch out for.
The SOLO section of the fair is a space for mid-career artists to show a more comprehensive selection of work. Sungi Mlengeya, with Afriart Gallery, makes low key monochrome paintings of figures, their clothes disappearing into pure white backgrounds. With the barest highlights picking out the skin, her figures look both strong and vulnerable.
MAWANDE KA ZENZILE
Fresh from showing at the South African Pavilion at Venice last year, we’re curious to see Ka Zensile’s cow dung paintings and snappy aphorisms in the context of a fair. Keep an eye out for his earthy colours and contrasting geometry in the SOLO section.
GALLERIES GALLERIES GALLERIES
While these are some highlights for us, the best part of a fair is to browse. With galleries from Tunis, Antwerp, Milan, Luanda and beyond, the fair is full of gems ready to be discovered, fresh faces, familiar virtuosity and rich experiences.
Don’t forget to drop by ArtThrob’s booth, where we will be offering prints from some of South Africa’s greatest names.