Turbine Art Fair reaches new heights — underground

For its tenth year, the Turbine Art Fair (TAF) is taking art and urban design to new heights by going underground. South Africa’s emerging artists and galleries will be descending on, or rather beneath, Oxford Parks in Rosebank from 21 to 24 July 2022. It’s unsurprising that TAF has chosen Rosebank as its new home, considering that a couple of blocks down is Joburg’s art strip at Keyes Art Mile. 

TAF sews an artistic seed into the urban design of Oxford Parks, which now houses famous restaurants by celebrity chef Luke Dale Roberts: The Shortmarket Club and the Test Kitchen. Above ground, the Radisson Red Hotel will also house TAF’s talks and Walkabouts for visitors to cultivate a more social experience with the fair’s artists. 

Make your way down the escalators, through the TAF-marked entrance into a microcosm of contemporary Southern African art, design and creativity. It’s not often that all these spheres of emerging creatives are found in one place intermingling, making TAF 2022 the epicentre to experience this cultural and artistic melting pot in all its glory, (because it truly is glorious). 

Since its inception in 2013, TAF has cemented its place as the go-to event in the social and art calendar as the first accessible and affordable art fair in South Africa. Since it aims to give a platform for small-scale and emerging galleries, TAF continues to empower, educate, entertain and sell art to those who crave it most. 

Thando Phenyane’s work is featured on the ‘TAF Grad Show’

Go down for the up-and-coming

A universal challenging notion of the art world is accessibility: the affordability to buy and collect art;  artists ability to thrive and survive; as well as the public’s access to interacting with artists’ works. Both emerging artists and art consumers alike have remained in a more passive role to South Africa’s art world, leaving a smaller dominant circle of galleries, artists, collectors and museums to set the agenda for the art world. 

Without a platform like TAF, there is a dynamic with smaller artists forming the lower part of this pyramid-like system whose peaks are largely inaccessible. For Pretoria-born artist, Setlamorago Mashilo – who won the 2014 Turbine Art Fair and Sylt Emerging Artist Award (TASA) – TAF is one of the catalysts to launching an artist’s career and bringing eyes to their works.

“It’s instrumental for emerging artists. Once you’ve won, [TASA],  your career starts to grow so drastically,” says Mashilo, who is now represented by the Everard Read Gallery and has since had his art shown in Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. 

In 2022, the TASA is replaced by TAF Off the Grid, which aims to reward these emerging artists at the top of their game who are about to blast off into the global art universe. This year’s participants include Jeanne Hoffman, Yonela Makoba, Dominique Edwards, Bella Knemeyer, and Sivan Zeffertt, each bringing their own flair to the special project. 

The underground art fair kicks off in the evening of Thursday 21 July with a cocktail event for VIP’s and guests to mix and mingle with each other before celebrating works of art throughout the weekend. Bringing together the best of emerging talents and quality is a balancing act, yet it does not feel like anyone from the artist’s experience is left out. 

Other special projects taking place at TAF that encompass an artist’s journey from studying, to discovery, to showcasing,  includes TAF Unearthed curated by Teboho Relasai, TAF Capsule showcasing Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, as well as the TAF Grad Show curated by Michaela Limberis and Siwa Mgoboza. 

“We see this as an opportunity to support art schools in ensuring a generation of new artists. Through our special projects we showcase the work of emerging artists at the start of their careers, giving them a much-needed launch pad. It is vital to keep the art ecosystem engaged and keep the conversations going,” says TAF’s founder, Glynis Hyslop. 

The Creative Block

More than a flag pole 

The talks at TAF 2022 span genre, tone and aesthetic sensibilities. Discussions will be diverse with subjects such as Collecting with Purpose; Johannesburg a Melting Pot of Cultural Hubs; or Alchemy of Colour. More Than a FlagPole is a talk which explores solutions for owning South Africa’s cultural future, in light of the unveiling of the department of sport, arts, and culture’s R22 Million flagpole coined a “monumental waste of money”.

TAF’s place in SA’s creative scene strikes the perfect balance of emerging artists and quality. As the starting place for artists and emerging galleries, the fair instils togetherness where differences often reside. There is a strong focus on art’s “object, production and materiality,” says Hyslop. “It is a place to meet old friends and make new ones,” she adds. 

Mixed-media work ‘Bofula Tonki’ by Themba Msiza

Going one step further with its ethos of accessibility, TAF has launched an online store for members to sign up to buy art. Art prices are notoriously secretive, but for emerging artists this is not the case. TAF’s online store is a breath of fresh air in the world of being able to own pieces of art. If they give a platform for emerging artists to showcase their art, then surely it should be a platform for emerging buyers to find a place to suit their taste and budget. 

“The public has embraced the ethos of the Turbine Art Fair and over the years have built a long-standing, trusted relationship with the fair, which provides a safe and curated space in which to buy art,” says Hyslop. “I have bought some fantastic pieces over the years,” she laughs. 

Getting exposure: ‘The Stain of Shadows’ by Tumelo Mtimkhulu.

Not only is TAF the place for emerging artists to showcase their works, but for galleries to showcase their collections that are carefully curated for the different spheres of the art world. The same way that each artist has their own style of creating, galleries too have their own style of curating. TAF will play host to explosive galleries such as the Bubblegum Club Gallery, Dream Press, Kalashnikovv Gallery, and Collective UNTITLD. 

“It presents a space for the showcasing of established and new talent in an environment that is immersive, accessible and inclusive,” says Hyslop. “Turbine Art Fair provides a space for a range of galleries, secondary market dealers, print studios, artist organisations, and collectives to exhibit new emerging artists and engage with emerging and established collectors,” adds Hyslop. 

‘The Secret Bathers’ by Bastiaan van Stenis.

Home affairs, but make it fashion

It wouldn’t be an art fair without dabbling in the age-old debate, “is fashion art?” The African Fashion Research Institute (AFRI) and South African designer Wanda Lephoto will showcase pieces from his Home Affairs SS22 collection  that explores  ideas of belonging, identity and movement. 

“Using the lens of fashion in the space typically exclusive to fine art […] the collections reference silenced sartorial landscapes and histories, and spotlight the complex realities of postapartheid South Africa. ‘Home Affairs’ is a story about South Africa’s social labels,” explains Lephoto. 

The well-known experience of standing in the queue at home affairs is where all become equal in a melting pot of cultural differences. 

“All in one place, seeking and representing different needs, traditions, backgrounds and histories; where foreign missions and asylum seekers mix, and where freedoms of movement and identities are made possible. No matter your social status and class you have to pass through the hands of Home Affairs” says Lephoto. 

  • The Turbine Art Fair takes place from 21 to 24 July 2022 at Oxford Parks, 199 Oxford Road, Rosebank, Johannesburg. 
 TAF Hours:

Thursday VIP Day:  9am-4pm

Thursday Opening Night: 6pm-9:30pm

Friday: 10am – 9pm

Saturday: 10am-7pm

Sunday: 10am-5pm


We all know that Friday is a feeling and nothing feels better than winning on a friday! We’re giving away two double tickets to this year’s Turbine Art Fair. To stand a chance to win, follow us on social media. Go to @mailandguardian_friday on Instagram for a giveaway to this year’s Turbine Art Fair. Follow @mailandguardian_friday and @turbineartfair and share with #TAFGoesUnderground #TAF2022 to enter. This competition closes on 19 July 2022. 

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