Joburg has taken some hard knocks lately: inner city street explosions, a near-5.0-magnitude earthquake, urban decay and on-going deindustrialisation. So what is the response for us innovative, resilient lot? We make and we create. We laugh and tell ‘rebuild’ jokes about the tremors. We find beauty in tragedy by creating AI images of the blast aftermath and for the rest, we vote.
Doomsday naysayers may be easily distracted by the secondary art market boom as emmigrating collectors sell off their collections or by artworld tastemaker chit chat suggesting that art from the ‘dark continent’ has fallen out of vogue. So what do we do about that, us resilient lot? We breathe a sigh of relief and get back into the studio while marvelling that it took that long for the international art world to see us.
Over at FNB ArtJoburg – Africa’s longest running art fair – it’s showtime, and back to the business of programming. This year’s fair has added the timely ‘Exchange of interest – beyond market frenzies with the Global South’ to the not-to-be missed list, and a look at how-to-grow the market with the return of the BMW Young Collectors Co. and the important ‘In the name of access, artists and audiences’ with Stevenson Gallery.
A quick stroll on the skywalk (connecting FNB ArtJoburg’s convention centre location with Sandton City) paints an opulent and optimistic picture: with high-end retail stores like Balmain (opening soon), Cartier, Gucci and countless others glimmering in the gilt-edged lights and perfumed air, it’s clear that in the City of Gold, collectors are collecting and shoppers are shopping.
For this, FNB ArtJoburg’s 16th edition, the sweet 16 features a selection of 45 galleries divided into six sections with hashtag-able titles: gallery HUB, gallery LAB, MAX, ORG, AUX and ETC.
Gallery LAB promises to be a highlight. Curated by the Durban-born, Joburg-based FNB ArtJoburg gallery liaison Kim Kandan and independent Ghanaian curator Aida Esi Hayfron-Benjamin, the LAB curatorial duo are presenting a unique bird’s-eye view of select pan-African galleries and hybrid spaces. LAB promises an entirely unique experience, each gallery offering a single artist or art collective to serve as an incubator, developing and nurturing emerging talent and arts programmes while simultaneously providing space for exploration; presenting new artists to visitors, namely Adolphus Washington (presented by Wunika Mukan Gallery), Isaac Emokpae (presented by Oda Art) and Vida Madighi-Oghu (presented by CHURCH). LAB ideas and business models are all relevant to the contemporary African arts landscape with an all-Africa line-up including galleries from Nigeria, Botswana, Harare, South Africa, Zambia and Cameroon.
HUB is the fairs central section and focuses on quality over quantity, featuring South Africa’s most prominent galleries such as Stevenson, Goodman Gallery, SMAC, the Everard Read Gallery, blank projects and local heavy weights Kalashnikovv Gallery, Bkhz, Gallery MOMO, WHATIFTHEWORLD and First Floor Gallery Harare. HUB galleries are all regulars at international art fairs and offer the best in contemporary African and diaspora artists, as well as prominent international talent.
Last year, FNB ArtJoburg’s springtime kick-off undoubtedly set the pace for South Africa playing host to several world-class art events including Kahlo, Sher-Gil, Stern: Modernist Identities in the Global South, William Kentridge’s remarkable performance piece, The Head & The Load, among others. New works, including sculptures by Kentridge, will be featured by Goodman Gallery, as will remarkable works by Nigerian born, London based Yinka Shonibare. Artist Boemo Diale’s paintings will feature prominently as she muscles her way into the big time with Kalashnikovv Gallery.
FNB ArtJoburg’s managing director, the always-dapper Mandla Sibeko, says, “FNB ArtJoburg’s mandate is to sustainably support and grow the contemporary African art market, offering what is shown on African soil. As the continent’s leading fair, we are thrilled to continue seeing this through.”
Continually delivering on their promise to showcase the dynamic talent that Johannesburg, South Africa and the continent have to offer, FNB ArtJoburg’s ‘Intervention of Interest’ in the cultural and economic capital of Africa this year showcases all of our best artists under one roof.
For the vernissage or opening night by tonight, we’re looking forward to being treated to the multi-sensory annual event, complete with a glamorous mix of art patrons, creative talent, gallerists and corporate types enjoying catering by Food Goddess and abundant supplies of Krone bubbly.
The year’s art week highlight FNB ArtJoburg runs over three days from 8 -10 September at the glass behemoth that is the Sandton Convention Centre. Opening night VIP tickets are R1 500 (limited), the weekend visitor pass for R360 or a day pass for R150.
Visit https://artjoburg.com/tickets/ for more info