A mosaic of gallery presentations, VIP events, talks and parties, the Investec Cape Town Art Fair is back. The international art fair is returning for its eleventh edition this February with the theme Unbound. Posing the questions; “What does it mean to be unbound?” and “How can the experience of art liberate the mind?” the fair teases out art’s limitless potential to inspire and challenge.
Convening at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in the city’s foreshore area, and extending throughout the city, the fair, which is produced by Fiera Milano Exhibitions Africa (FMEA), will showcase over 100 leading galleries and more than 500 artists from four continents. It opens with a collector’s preview and VIP Vernissage on 15 February and continues to run from 16-18 February with a programme that encourages robust dialogue and city-wide activations.
This year, exhibitors are spread across a myriad of sections — Main, Editions, ALT, Connect and Special Projects include presentations from across the world in different formats while other segments will highlight specific curatorial approaches by invited independent curators; these include; Tomorrows/ Today curated by Mariella Franzoni, SOLO curated by Sean O’Toole and Generations curated by Amogelang Maledu and Natasha Becker. A new edition to the fair, Generations considers intergenerational artistic dialogue by pairing younger emerging artists with more established artists. While the intergenerational conversation is formalised in this section, other such conversations, highlighting the works of artists across generations, will find expression in smaller booths such as Church Projects which will present works by veteran South African artist Berni Searle along with Warren Maroon and Alka Dass. The ALT section, which highlights alternative booth formats by non-traditional galleries will include presentations by 16 on Lerotholi, Amasaka Gallery, Art Formes, artHarare, Borna Soglo Gallery, CHURCH Projects, Iadema Studio, KZNSA Gallery, Legacy, Post Gallery, Under the Aegis, Untitled, Vault Research and Vela Projects.
From emerging artists showcasing for the first time to seasoned artists represented by powerful galleries with an international presence, the fair has it all. It also presents a wonderful opportunity for book lovers to consider new publications on art, theory, design and lifestyle through the Magazine section while the Editions section allows the possibility of indulging in smaller and more affordable works in the form of prints and works on paper.
The fair is a space for commercial exchange but it can also be a place to promote critical engagement with artistic and creative practice where discourse can begin to form. This year, a series of talks — in collaboration with iTOO Artinsure and taking place at the Westin Hotel — will feature twenty-six speakers including architect Max Melvill, fashion designer Lukhanyo Mdingi, artist Dada Khanyisa, and musician Msaki in conversation with moderator, writer, and researcher, Ashraf Jamal, exploring interdisciplinarity. Art critic Sean O’Toole and art historian Olivia Barrell will engage ceramic artist Andile Dyalvane and painter Kamyar Bineshtarigh around their work about language and migration within the mediums of clay and painting. A round table discussion between artists Sam Nlhengethwa and Sethembile Msezane, art professor Nomusa Makhubu and independent curators Heidi Erdmann Rasch and Phillippa Duncan moderated by Elizabeth Gorayeb, will tease out custodianship and cultural heritage. Other talks include Curatorial Chronicles with esteemed directors and curators Bernardo Follini, Wim Pijbes, Raphael Chikukwa, Khwezi Gule and Heba Elkayal as well as Rethinking Art and Nature Behind Binaries with curator Mariella Franzoni and fair participating artists Natalie Paneng, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Marlene Steyn, Cinthia Sifa Mulanga and Boemo Diale.
While not part of the official fair programme, many galleries and project spaces across the city will stage distinct exhibitions in anticipation of the heightened focus on art during fair time. The new project space, breakroom in Woodstock, by Igshaan Adams Studio has just mounted its inaugural exhibition, Over the Garden Wall with artist Guy Simpson. Stevenson Gallery showcases Mawande ka Zenzile’s solo exhibition, uZenzile akakhalelwa, while Ravelle Pillay will exhibit large-scale works in her solo show, The Weight of a Nail, at Goodman Gallery in Green Point.
Zeitz MOCAA’s annual fundraiser Gala will also coincide with the fair week. Taking place on Sunday 11 February with musical offerings by Simphiwe Dana and local pianist Nobuhle Ashanti, the event will comprise an exclusive auction facilitated by Strauss and Co. The Gala takes place alongside some high-quality exhibitions, open to public viewing, including; SALA, an intimate look into Zeitz MOCAA’s permanent collection archive, a solo exhibition by artist Mame-Diarra Niang (her first museum solo exhibition) as well as a lens-based exhibition, Seekers, Seers, Soothsayers featuring the works of seven women artists; Gladys Kalichini, Latedjou, Sekai Machache, Nyancho NwaNri, Pamina Sebastião, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Helena Uambembe.
Coinciding with the final day of the fair, the Iziko National Gallery will open a retrospective exhibition by Esther Mahlangu; “Then I Knew I Was Good at Painting”, curated by Nontobeko Ntomblela. Highlighting Dr Mahlangu’s half-century-long career, the touring exhibition will be staged at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg and subsequently, in the United States in early 2026.
The Investec Cape Town Art Fair is an event to look forward to. Exuding novel ideas, and interesting connections alongside some level of artworld glamour, the fair showcases an art scene that is colourful and complex. For anyone who attends, all senses will be ignited.
- The eleventh Investec Cape Town Art Fair will run from 16 to 18 February at the Cape Town International Conference Centre from 11h00 to 19h00.
- Tickets can be purchased via the Webtickets link on www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za
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