The Cape’s summer of art for a one-of-a-kind experience

When Gods Battle Mortals (A Revival). Artwork by M
When Gods Battle Mortals (A Revival). Artwork by Malebona Maphutse

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair coincides with the Stellenbosch Triennale and promises art lovers a  one-of-a-kind experience. Welcome Lishivha looks at the emerging artists’ programmes and chats to some of them about exhibiting their work in the Cape Art of Summer

The Cape Peninsula is set to become an arts mecca as artists, gallerists, curators and collectors from South Africa, other parts of the African continent and abroad gather for a convergence of two culturally significant art events. For art lovers, the combined experience of the returning Investec Cape Town Art Fair and the inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale will offer a wide-ranging platform to explore works by great and emerging artists.

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair returns to the International Convention Centre (ICC) for its eighth edition, with the aim of getting artists and curators from around the globe to engage in cultural and economic exchanges.

Cape Town is ideally positioned as a vibrant cultural hub, attracting collectors from all over the world, willing to spend a good buck on art.

This year’s programme includes talks covering museums in the 21st century and other topics; walkabouts with artists and an expansion of the programme beyond the ICC into gallery night. Institutional exhibitions with the likes of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and Iziko SA Museum, are also scheduled.

Those looking to discover new artists can look forward to the Today/Tomorrow exhibition, aimed at recognising emerging and underrated artists.

“All the artists selected in the Today/Tomorrow programme have a connection to Africa in the sense that, through varying journeys, they are part of the African diaspora. This was our solution, to not limit the practices of a continent when a large number of African artists are also in the diaspora,” said the Today/Tomorrow co-curator, Nkule Mabaso.

The opportunity for emerging artists to exhibit their work will bring them visibility, sales or institutional contacts they can tap into in future.

Amanda Mushate, a 24-year-old painter from First Floor Gallery in Zimbabwe, said that, as an artist in the early stages of her career, an opportunity to be involved in such an event would go a long way towards advancing her prospects.

“The Today/Tomorrow section is a big opportunity for me to discover myself in comparison to others and to be seen by new audiences, especially my peers.

“I worked hard to present a new body of work and a new direction, which is a departure from my previous work. So I am nervous and excited about the audience’s response,” Mushate said.

“The possibility to be invited [again] is key because it offers the chance to deepen your artistic research and expand your commitment as a young artist,” added Luigi Fassi, co-curator of the Today/Tomorrow exhibition.

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair is taking place from February 14 to 16

Amanda Mushate (r) and Malebona Maphutse (l)
Amanda Mushate (r) says that paintings are about transition and narrative. Malebona Maphutse (l) looks forward to challenging a white-dominated space with her art. Pictures: Supplied

On The Cusp at the Stellenbosch Triennale

The inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale features the On The Cusp exhibition, underpinned by the same criteria of giving young and emerging artists a break.

“It is important that at the time of the invitation, the artists were living on the continent and were ‘on the cusp’ of something big in their careers,” said contemporary Ghanaian curator Bernard Akoi-Jackson.

The opportunity also offers artists a chance to “pick mentors from among those in the so-called Curators’ Exhibition”, added Akoi-Jackson.

“Having my artwork shown at the Stellenbosch Triennale is a great opportunity. I’m most looking forward to the networking – the possibility of meeting people from different parts of the African continent, especially in the contemporary African art scene,” said Angolan photographer Indira Mateta, who features in On The Cusp.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the black people who are going to be exhibiting at the show in Stellenbosch – considering how white it is.

“It is my first time in Stellenbosch and I am really excited to see all these black artists taking up space in this Dutch colony,” said Malebona Maphutse, who’s looking forward to challenging a white- dominated space with her art.

In addition to the On The Cusp exhibition, the programme includes the Curators’ Exhibition, curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa and Akoi-Jackson and called From The Vault.

This exhibition exhumes archives and engages with buried museum collections as a critical resource to contextualise and map out contemporary society and culture.

Die Braak Pavilion is a fusion of public art, sculpture and architecture. The Concepts of Freedom Film Festival and other events round out the programme.

“All the various segments of the Stellenbosch Triennale were thought of as a continuum. From works selected from historical collections of South African institutions in From The Vault, through the 20 contemporary African artists’ practices in The Curators’ Exhibition, to the work of the nine artists in On The Cusp – they are all connected,” said Akoi-Jackson.

The Stellenbosch Triennale, which starts on February 11 and runs until April 30, is the brainchild of the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust. It aims to take public art in Stellenbosch to new heights in terms of its international reach.

If you are around the Cape between February 14 and April 10, make sure to catch the Investec Cape Town Art Fair and or the Stellenbosch Triennale to discover trends and artists in the globally growing African contemporary art scene.

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