Art and Design

FNB Joburg Art Fair: A pan-African take

Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine

This year’s art fair sees a strong focus on Nigeria, and aims to highlight the pan-African buyers and curators.

Portia Zvavahera's 'Tauya Naye' (2013). The Harare-based artist's new body of paintings earned her the FNB Art prize winner accolade this year. (FNB Joburg Art Fair)

The seventh edition of the FNB Joburg Art Fair, in partnership with Artlogic, takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from August 22 to August 24.

Director of the FNB Joburg Art Fair Ross Douglas announced at the press launch – recently held at the Saxon Boutique Hotel – that this year sees a strong focus on Nigeria. The aim is to increase the international component of the event, with a specific focus on the pan-African buyers and curators. 

This year, 33 galleries will be participating and the fair will host two galleries from Lagos (Omenka and Red Door), in addition to two art platforms (Art Twenty Once and Lagos Photo). “We continue to look for ways for linking the FNB Joburg Art Fair with the established art world in Europe and the US, and the new art world coming out of cities like Lagos,” says Douglas.

Portia Zvavahera is a Harare-based artist who represented Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale this past year. Her new body of paintings, which continue to explore issues around marriage, childbirth and parental love, earned her R100 000 as this year’s FNB Art prize winner, as well as a dedicated booth at the fair.

Audiences can also look forward to the fair’s special projects programme – a series of curated shows, which are outlined as follows:

  • Dialogues with Masters: Visual Perspectives on Two Decades of Democracy, presented by Grolsch and curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, features 10 contemporary artists responding to seminal works by South African masters such as Gerard Sekhoto and Ernest Mancoba;
  • Fabricate: A Handspring Puppet Company Retrospective presented by Rand Merchant Bank, celebrating the company’s rich history of puppetry and theatre.
  • Peregrinate: Field Notes on time travel and space presented by the Goethe Institut. Meaning to travel or wander from place to place, Peregrinate features the work of three photographers: South African photographers Thabiso Sekgala and Musa Nxumalo, and Kenyan Mimi Chereno Ng’ok. Peregrinate explores the concept of photography as a means of investigation, discovery and representation.
  • Ponte City features the work of South African photographer Michael Subotzky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse, and combines imagery, historical archives, found objects and interviews. Presented by the Goethe Institut, the work has culminated in a book due to be launched at Ponte with some of the works.
  • Just Ask! is presented by the Goethe Institut. Just Ask! is a publication edited by Simon Njami, conceived as an introduction to contemporary African photography, including essays by renowned artists, curators and art critics.
  • Working Title: Create, Curate, Collect: A Portrait in Three Parts, presented by Artlogic, sees acclaimed curator and artist Gabi Ncgobo, artist Megan Mace and collector Dawood Petersen in a three-way conversation confronting the arts industry. The discussion will be screened during the fair.
  • Lagos Photo Festival: Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction, presented by Pirelli, includes a selection of artists exhibited in this year’s upcoming edition of LagosPhoto Festival.
  • Anthea Moys: The Artist is Arm Wrestling is a performance piece during which the artist, in a re-imagining of artist Marina Abramovic’s work, The Artist is Present (2010), challenges artists, security guards, curators, cleaners, volunteers, organisers and members of the public to take turns sitting opposite her.

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