This weekend the annual FNB Jo’burg Art Fair transformed the Sandton Convention Centre into a collection of pop-up galleries from all over Africa. We saw the mystifying allegorical film and sculptural work of this year’s Featured Artist Wangechi Mutu, and 2016 FNB Art Prize winner Nolan Oswald Denis’ Furthermore/ More installation which responds to the challenge of a new political memory. Rather than telling you about the rest ourselves, we interviewed fair-attendees from all walks of life about the artworks that captured their attention and caused them to stop and think.
Tshepang Dumelakgosi – Gerhard Marx at Goodman Gallery
What I like about Gerhard Marx is that he’s using things that people wouldn’t normally use for art. He’s used an actual map, the atlas that in a way, tells a story about the people viewing it as well as the place in question. I like the fact that he’s able to draw a picture or use a picture that’s already in the lines of the atlas itself. I also just love the human aspect that’s present here. Although it’s just a map, there are people that live there.
Jess Jindrich and Natasha Brown – Grace Cross at SMITH
Fine art students at Wits
This piece is super visceral. Ja it’s really yummy. The paints have been caked on. It’s kind of Penny Siopis, but in a different kind of child-like way. So ja, it’s just really visceral and delicious. Do you want us to say something more obscure or is that cool?
Lerato Bereng – Zanele Muholi at Stevenson Gallery
Associate director at Stevenson
So this is a Zanele Moholi photograph from her Somnyama Ngonyama series which means ‘Hail the black lioness’. It looks at black skin and plays with the idea of black and white photography and the tonalities of skin and creating different personas. It’s a self-portrait series, she takes a different photograph every day, wherever she is and with whatever she finds around her to create these powerful black women personas. She’s an incredibly powerful black woman so I find this very inspiring.
Candice Cruse – FNB Featured Artist Wangechi Mutu
Independent curator and artist
If you view this in conjunction with Wangechi’s film, the kind of mythological creature lying in this space is indicative of so many people’s personal mythologies. The collection of East African objects and the use of the colour black with the lush texture of velvet is almost evil in its beauty. It makes you want to touch it. Reading up on different mythologies around Africa, you realise that we all collect our own things and we all create our own narratives…which I suppose eventually do become mythology. I just find this work so intriguing, I can’t stop looking at it. It’s magnificent.
Cow Mash and Marilise Snyman – Andrzej Urbanski at Salon 91
Fine art students at TUT
Cow Mash: So this is part of Cape Town’s Salon 91 booth and it’s Andrzej’s work right, so he was telling us how he likes to work with rulers so obviously it’s very geometric. I automatically go for dark work, everything dark jumps out at me and I also study sculpture so I saw this sculptural work by him which is geometric. At first I was standing afar and I was looking at the different planes and I thought that he must have matted one side, but actually it’s all shiny, it’s just the way that it’s placed that gives it so many different dimensions. I stood here for so long, probably the longest time I spent in a booth just because this sculptural work speaks so much to me.
Marilise Snyman: This is a work by Andrzej Urbanski and I really love the shape of the canvas, it’s so interesting. I immediately thought how difficult it must have been to stretch a canvas like this. The shape of it also accentuates the shapes inside the canvas itself without distracting your eye. You get this feeling of a futuristic, technological idea being put forward in the work. He also started out doing design and graffiti so it’s nice to see his work inside a gallery using the traditional mediums of paint and canvas.
Lewis Thomas – Georgina Gratrix at SMAC Gallery
Owner and founder of Partners Hair Design
Okay look, I’m a big fan of Georgina’s work. I could recognise this as being one of her works from 100kms away. I love the soft, delicate shades and I love the fun aspects of it – all of the little shards of ceramic and the little kinds of four carrot diamonds that have been put in there. I love the serendipity and the way that she works with complete freedom with her strokes, where nothing’s stiff. It can go into anybody’s house really, it’s got a multitude of colours, any colour you can think of is here. And just the spontaneity of it all, like how she popped this lobster here and the little bird saying hello over there. It’s brilliant.
Gillian Fleisschmann – Karel Nel
Fine art student at Wits
It’s amazing to see Karel Nel’s work because you know, he’s just such a humble person and to have him as my professor at Wits is a great experience. I know first year students are often troublesome and we’re the babies of the university, but he’s just a really nice person to work with. I feel like we’re all his groupies, so to see his work on display is great and as an aspiring artist myself it really gives me something to work towards.
Andile Buka – Zohra Opoku
This is work by Zohra Opoku and basically she works with second hand clothing and material. What she does is hang these items on a tree or an electric pole and she does these self-portraits, but instead of using normal paper to print, she uses cotton. These are my favourites out of her body of work. I don’t have the courage to put myself in front of the camera so I think her work really encourages me to venture out into stuff like self-portraiture. I really admire the bravery in her work.