The revamping of the FNB Art Joburg fair, now under new ownership, was one of the highlights of the local art scene this year.
finweek spoke to various art market participants about the past year’s groundbreaking artists, those whose works are deemed as novel and emerging.
“As a rule of thumb... to be considered an emerging artist in places like Germany, one’s artistic career must have spanned over ten years,” says Robin Scher, head of communications at the Goodman Gallery.
In some instances, you might find that an artist has work spanning a couple of years but has only just had their biggest year as an artist, now finally making them an emerging artist, says Alastair Meredith, an art specialist at Strauss & Co.
In terms of market trends, a lot of galleries are looking along the lines of young black artists, especially African female artists, following the huge success of Zanele Muholi, who is probably considered the top African artist now, according to Kate Swart from SMAC gallery.
Misheck Masamvu is an artist whose work has been consistent over the past ten years and has just had a successful year, according to Scher. Masamvu has exhibited at numerous shows over the past decade, from the Venice Biennale (Zimbabwe Pavillion) in 2011 to Basel Miami in 2017 and Art Basel last year.
Blank Projects had quite the busy year representing Bronwyn Katz, winner of the FNB Art Prize 2019for her work on topical themes such as land, froma lived experience. Katz’s abstract work from
found materials is a trend that is coming more to market, says Swart.
The land debate features in several new works that came to the art market this pastyear. Nkhensani Rihlampfu’s life-sized sculptures, crafted from wood and rope, told the story of “a search for the truth and identity, in the land and democracy”, explains the artist.
The sculptures were hard to miss at the 2019 RMB Turbine Art Fair. Rihlampfu had a good run at the fair and then went on to be named one of the three Absa L’Atelier 2019 ambassadors. He also won the Gerard Sekoto Award. The win entails permanently installing his one-of-a-kind sculpture at Absa’s head office in Johannesburg.
Strauss & Co ended its year with a summer sale of contemporary African art that fetched R37m. It is a secondary market which some of the emerging artists’ works will hopefully make it to in the nearer future, says Makgati Molebatsi, art adviser and co-founder of the LATITUDES Art Fair.
Blessing Ngobeni, an alumnus of Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg, ended his year by winning the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year award. Ngobeni’s representative, Everard Read, says he is currently advancing his artistic trajectory.
Ngobeni does this by creating abstracted works using found objects, print ads and articles, together with paint on canvas. He expands his range of creative media by producing free-standing and wall- based sculptures, video animations, sound installations and live performances.
Going forward, paintings and photography will continue to dominate the market in 2020 as they remain “slightly safer media that people turn to especially in times of financial uncertainty”, says Scher.
While new media like digital art will become increasingly visible as the medium grows, the expansion will be more cultural than commercial, he says.