Art and Design

2012: More than just The Spear

M&G Reporter

2012 was a year where art made headlines. But there was more to the art world than the hype around Brett Murray's controversial work.

Mary Sibande was a favourite of many fellow artists in 2012.

Thembinkosi GoniweArtist and lecturer of fine art and history of art at the Vaal University of Technology

Who is your favourite emerging artist?'}
Blessing Ngobeni. He is just starting, but he has managed to establish a signature style. He is like an Afro- Picasso. Many black artists are moving away from social critique, but he isn’t. His work is apt and timely. There is also Lerato Shadi. She is a performing artist, which is challenging in itself because of financial constraints. There is no direct revenue, unlike with visual art where you can sell objects. She deals with very intimate and interesting issues like gender and sexuality, but with critical commentary.

Which are your favourite art pieces?
Most of Mary Sibande’s work. I like the idea of Sophie as the alter ego with the deep-blue colour of her dress. She is so monumental and so baroque. I also like photographer Zanele Muholi. She is controversial but without losing the aesthetic and symbolism.

What would you rather not see?
Work that trades on controversy like Brett Murray’s The Spear. It’s like a fart. It’s rude and doesn’t stay very long. I am not dismissive of those, but it doesn’t move me.

Whose work do you collect?
I mainly purchase the work of young artists, who are my students. If I could afford it, Mary Sibande is one of those I would like to collect as well as Mikhael Subotzky, Blessing Ngobeni and David Kawena. Then there is some pioneering work from Sam Nhlengethwa and Zweli Mkwete, a photographer from Cape Town.

Who should everyone see at least once?
They should see Mary Sibande’s work. Sophie deserves more viewing and airing.

Blessing Ngobeni: Artist in residence at the Bag Factory

Who is your favourite emerging artist?
Benon Lutaaya and Tshepo Mosopa. They are both here at the Bag Factory. We exchange ideas and there is a great spirit of creativity among us.

What are your favourite art pieces?
Sam Nhlengethwa’s work is my favourite. The way he does collages inspires my own work. And Mary Sibande. I like the way she conceptualises her work.

What would you rather not see?
Works that copy other art. There is no creativity there and as an artist you need to make something that will look different.

Whose work do you collect?
If I could afford it, it would be the work of Benon Lutaaya at the Bag Factory.

Thandi Sibisi: Gallery owner

Who is your favourite emerging artist?
Nelson Makamo. He has managed to capture the authentic South African story of migration and city dwelling while investigating and negotiating the city and its challenges and ­opportunities.

What were your favourite art pieces from this year?Recent exhibitions at Sibisi Gallery created by Esther Mahlangu and Rhona Gorvy, such as Matriarch in Conversation, and works from the As Seen on TV exhibition by Mark Ward at the Kemistry Gallery in London were ground-breaking and ­challenging.

Which type of art would you rather not see?
I would rather not see work that is removed from the contemporary social issues that we are faced with. I would also rather not see uninspired and safe art, works that imitate others too much and what is termed “touristy” works.

Whose work do you collect?
Various South African artists, including the works of Nelson Makamo. If it’s amazing and proudly South African, we collect it.

What should everyone see at least once?
An exhibition at the Sibisi Gallery, especially the openings.

Terry Kurgan: Artist

Who is your favourite emerging artist?
This year I was really struck by the work of Kemang Wa Lehulere. He’s one of an exciting younger generation of South African artists mostly born in the mid-1980s, who all seem to work in the space between politics and poetics. South African apartheid history is one of his core themes — what history is and how unreliably it is made. He works in a diverse range of media: drawing, writing, video and performance and has developed a signature style of drawing in white chalk on black walls.

What were your favourite art pieces from this year?
A most extraordinary series of fictitious portrait paintings by Lynette Yiadom Boakye that I saw on a trip to New York earlier this year. She was born to Ghanaian parents and is based in London. They were all very ordinary, almost incidental portraits of black people she imagined. But in their incredible simplicity and complexity she engaged with ideas about the history of portrait painting and the politics of black portraiture particularly. Another favourite was Zander Blom’s recent solo show of monochromatic paintings at the Stevenson gallery in Cape Town.

Which type of art would you rather not see?
Bad video! By this I mean the material quality of the digital or film footage and its projection.

Whose work do you collect?
I don’t. I have a collection of work that artist friends have given me over the years as gifts, or as work exchanges. But if I could I would collect (in no particular order) the South African artists: David ­Goldblatt, Penny Siopis, Santu Mofokeng, Lynette Yiadom Boakye , Claudette Schreuders, Paul Edmunds, Zander Blom and Dan Halter .... for a start.

What should everyone see at least once?
There is no doubt about this for me. It’s the Tintoretto paintings that cover every wall and ceiling surface of the San Rocco Church and its halls in Venice. I’ve been lucky enough to see these twice, 10 years apart. And both times I felt as though I had gone to heaven, along with the saint whose life these paintings narrate.

Zanele Muholi: Photographer

Who is your favourite emerging photographer?
Lindeka Qampi. She is great, respectful, down to earth and sensible. She is a mother of four based in Litha Park, Cape Town. Another is Themba Vilakazi. He is a young, intelligent, open-minded guy and shares a lot of good visual concepts. I have learnt a lot from them both.

What were your favourite photographs or collections of photographs from this year?
My Faces and Phases portraiture series that featured at the German art festival Documenta (13) in 2012. But my favourite book of all times is Viewfinders: Black Women Photographers (1986) by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, because it was given to me by a friend.

Whose work do you collect?
I would like to collect Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Robert ­Mapplethorpe, but I cannot afford them. I am obsessed with their photography, especially their male nudes.

What should everyone see at least once?
Every photographer or photo lover should experience the Bamako Encounters biennale of African photography in Mali and Documenta in Kassel, Germany.

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