A group of Chicago based art buyers have been touring the Eastern Cape in search of talented artists to showcase their artwork at an exhibition at the Guichard art gallery later this year.
Andre and Francis Guichard met with local township artists across the region who specialize in fine art, ranging from painting to sculpture and beadwork.
The aim of the two-week trip, which was initiated and arranged by Tradepoint, has been to expose young local artists to the opportunities offered in the United States art market and to develop them as emerging exporters. 40% of the Chicago population are of African origin and the Guichard are keen to strengthen their linkages back to the continent.
“The artwork that we have seen has been above my expectations in terms of quality and diversity”, said Andre Guichard.
“The artists use various mediums and themes to capture the social issues in their art pieces which they are using to uplift the Eastern Cape,” said Frances Guichard.
Tradepoint identified a need to create an international appreciation for local products to assist export ready businesses and products with export potential for global trade.
David Hamer, Manager of Tradepoint SA Nelson Mandela Bay said, “This visit from Chicago is just the tip of the iceberg. Local fine artists produce work of a standard that ranks high on the world stage. Their work is immensely appealing to international buyers and if Tradepoint can facilitate that process, enabling local artists to exhibit their work and by doing so raise the profile of South African art, then it can only bode well for the future in terms of both the art work and international trade.”
“Tradepoint enabled us to immerse ourselves in the culture of the Eastern Cape in a way which wouldn’t have been possible if we had planned this trip on our own,” said Andre Guichard. “We are looking forward to the reaction of the US audience when they feast their eyes on the talent from Nelson Mandela Bay.
The trip culminates in the selection of 16 local township artists who will have selected works from their art pieces exported to Chicago for an exhibition in September. The exhibition in September will include up to four township fine artists from the Eastern Cape who will represent different artistic disciplines such as sculpture, collage and paint, both representational and expressionist. The art will depict traditional, activist and contemporary township life or integrated South African life.
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