Cape art picks: March 9 2012

Esther Mahlangu needs no introduction.

One of the few artists to bridge the gulf between so-called traditional art and the contemporary scene successfully, her signature Ndebele works have been shown in leading art spaces around the world. Her new retrospective exhibition, Overlay, seeks to extend this legacy by framing Mahlangu’s traditional idiom within a street-art context.

Drawing parallels between the historical, social and political aspects of graffiti and Mahlangu’s practice, it aims to challenge simplistic, linear concepts of art history. Works on show that shake up our understanding of the urban-rural divide include a model of her painted BMW and images of her Ndebele-style home, with sculptural works such as her playful painted skateboard deck and funky ladies sports shoes. The real highlight, however, is Mahlangu’s painted skull with sunglasses.

34FineArt, second floor, the Hills Building, Buchanan Square, until March 24. Tel: 021 461 1863. Website:

? Regulars at the annual ­AfrikaBurn’s festival will know the “Stoomtrekker” as the outlandish pseudo-Victorian mechanical vehicle that patrols the venue’s grounds. This art-meets-steam punk invention, with other strange contraptions such as the festival’s “Honest Hard Working Fire Truck” and the roving “Chev” stage, are in need of an upgrade. To this end the art community is staging an auction and music event to raise funds. Works by Conrad Botes, Sanell Aggenbach, Beezy Bailey, Christopher Slack, Adriaan Oosthuizen, Conrad Hicks and many more are up for grabs. Mr Cat & the Jackal add to the steam-punk theme with their brand of Jean-Pierre Jeunet-style black humour.

The Bijou, 178 Lower Main Road, Observatory, on March 10 at 6.30pm. Auction starts at 7pm. Visit the Bijou on Facebook for more details.

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Miles Keylock
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