Looking back, 2007 was not a bad year. For art in South Africa, that is. Cape'07 did finally happen, in March - in a lite but imaginative version of what was originally planned. And this month, Spier Contemporary opens in a highly innovative art structure for this first edition - three stories of containers form the walls of the space, with a tensile ceiling stretched overhead. A team under the direction of Clive van den Berg has been working frantically on the show, and one hundred artists from across the country will be showing their stuff. One of the criteria: every artist had to show new work. in another first, Cape Town's most famous international artist, Marlene Dumas, came home from the Netherlands for 'Intimate Relations' a breathtaking solo show at Iziko SANG, and Africa Remix, the Simon Njami curated mega exhibition, drew the largest crowds ever to the opening at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in June.
Galleries have been on the move - the Goodman Gallery opened a stunning Cape Town gallery on the top floor of an old clothing factory in Woodstock, and What if the World... which this year featured in London's Contemporary magazine's roundup of hot young galleries around the world, also has a chic industrial space in Woodstock. With Michael Stevenson set to move there shortly, this has become the hot new art areas of Cape Town.
Johannesburg is deep into planning its first ever art fair for March next year, and it will be interesting to see what ripples that stone cast into the international pond will create.
ArtThrob wishes all its readers a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Take the holiday time to look at some of those shows you were too busy to go to before ... and buy some art for Christmas ...
NEXT UPDATE: Sunday, January 13, 2008.
PREVIEW: Look forward to our editors' annual survey of the hottest artists and shows of 2007
Spier Contemporary 2007 announces award winners.
The newly launched Spier Contemporary Art Award will be a major highlight of Cape Town's festive season. Finally, South Africa has a (sustainable) large-scale visual art competition, one which will happen every second year. Also in the winelands, kitsch takes on a new cool with Tretchikoff at Bell-Roberts Lourensford. Willie Bester and the Sasol Wax Art Award open at Iziko SANG, and the Goodman Gallery Cape debates the nature of beauty in a diasporic world with 'About Beauty'.
Sure, you tree-hugging mountain people may have the sea, and verdant vistas of spectacular scenery, but we had 'Africa Remix'. It actually feels a bit like a hollow victory now that I see it written down. In the last month of 2007 we have, of great interest, one hopes, to a broader audience than the usual art scenesters, 'The Legacy of Men' at JAG. This show considers the take of male artists on the abuse of women. Also noteworthy is a show by trio of Wits University students Candice Hirson, Anthea Pokroy and Louise Ross, intriguingly titled 'Three Abreast: side by side and facing the same way'. These hyperactive young artists are amongst a growing band of ambitious young Jozi things we should be watching.
'The Sneeze 80 x 80', a composite video work, opens at the Durban Art Gallery, while Bank gallery will be showing work by up-and-coming video/multi-media artist Matthew Coombes from London. The DAG also hosts 'Reuben Ndwandwe (1943 - 2007) Memorial Exhibition'. The African Art Centre presents both a group show by the Velobala group and Joseph Manana.
Photographers from across the African continent exhibit in Mali at 'In The City and Beyond' curated by Simon Njami; Pieter Hugo shows his Standard Bank Young Artist exhibition 'Messina/Musina' in Rome and also presents 'The Hyena and Other Men' in New York at Yossi Milo. Textile-related art is the focus of the group show 'Skin-to-Skin', curated by Fiona Kirkwood at the Kaunas Art Biennial, Lithuania. Brad Hammond presents 'Recent Paintings' in Bathurst, Australia.
Student Clare Butcher recently attended the Vansa/Aica conference held at UCT's Michaelis School of Fine Art. From what she heard there, she concludes that '[I]t remains for current art writers in Africa to marry the lingua franca of global contemporary art conversation with the dialects of their localities - losing the pretension of artistic elitism and gaining new audiences'.
Virginia MacKenny reviews 'Marlene Dumas: Intimate Relations' at Iziko SANG. The exhibition, almost exclusively devoted to the body, sexuality, violence and mortality, provides a rich and fascinating insight into one of the more demanding painters in contemporary art, she writes. She desribes Dumas as 'an iconoclast with a love of images and tradition, she is a painter who degrades paint beyond its capacity and she is a woman fascinated by the representation of the female body'. Bettina Malcomess reviews Svea Josephy's 'Twin Town' at Bell-Roberts. Josephy's photographic twinning of informal settlements, towns and cities with their namesakes in SA and Europe 'seeks less to expose differences than to bring them a little closer to home', writes Malcomess of this show. Moshekwa Langa's 'The Inheritance of Loss' at Goodman Gallery Cape finds the artist once again exploring an identity-in-flux, and once more moving freely from one medium to another. Fabian Saptouw identifies and is fascinated by the open-endedness of Langa's approach, suggesting that '[a]s viewers we are presented with maps to a territory that we will never be able to access and explore'.
John Meyer's 'Truths Revealed' finds the artist settling into his oeuvre, following his dramatic change in direction from the landscapes for which he was well known. In his depictions of 'the industrial middle class', of 'bedrooms and boardrooms', his mastery of uneasy, existential undertone, staccato tensions and dramatic pause is flawless, but he is clearly more adept at depicting distance than intimacy, writes Hazel Friedman. William Kentridge's 'What Will Come' at the Goodman reaffirms 'his importance for the local and global art scene'. Michael Smith reviews works from The Magic Flute, images and sculptures based on Dmitri Shostakovich's opera The Nose, and Kentridge's latest film What Will Come. Gerhard Marx's 'Photo-' at Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary is 'an intelligent and lyrical essay on mortality', writes Cara Snyman. In this young artist's second solo show at the venue, he has created composites from starmaps and assembled images from fine plant roots which he prints onto acetate. From these he has produced a series of striking contact prints.
Vulindlela Nyoni and Kristen Hua Yang both share an interest in drawing and, for this exhibition, have both produced figurative works on similar formats. This, says Carol Brown of their joint showing at ArtSPACE Durban, is where the similarity ends.
Michael Chandler reviews Sanell Aggenbach and Kevin Brand's 'Arcadia' and Julius Mfethe's 'Recent Works' which showed simultaneously at the AVA in Cape Town. Amy Miller reviews 'Contusion' by Natasha Norman, Suzanne Duncan and Dale Washkansky at the UCT Irma Stern Museum, while Jacqui Landey reviews the final installment of the Carrie Timlin and Lily Luz-curated 'The Inchoate Idiosyncratic Descent into Nihilism' at the Michaelis Gallery. Mari MacFarlane reviews Clare Sarembock and Natasha Norman's joint exhibition at Bell-Roberts and Clare Butcher reviews Cara Van Der Westhuizen's 'Venus Revisited' at the same venue.
The Emma Smith Awards take place at the Durban Institute of Technology. artSPACE berlin gathers momentum, and Carol Brown reports back on the Aica/Vansa conference recently held in Cape Town.
Claire Rousell writes for us about the South African Contemporary Photography Conference and Exhibition at the Hereford Photography Festival.
Michael Smith interviews David Brodie, founder and curator of recently opened Art Extra in Johannesburg.
Exhibiting and plotting new work, Ed Young was on the move last month.
December Artbio profiles the extraordinary Marlene Dumas, currently exhibiting at Iziko SANG.
Ed Young explores www.bell-roberts.com, home to the multi-faceted Cape Town operation.
The Big Issue, is on the look-out for the best unknown artistic talent in the Western Cape with the launch of The Big Issue Street Art awards. The World One Minutes foundation in Amsterdam and the Today Art Museum in Beijing announce the World One Minutes Exhibition which will open in June 2008 as part of Beijing's official cultural programme around the Olympic Games. 'Magmart | video under volcano' international videoart festival calls for submissions. Specs, a journal of contemporary culture and arts at Rollins College calls for submissions. Dak'Art 2008 invites submissions. Artists are invited to propose a new work to be realised at Frieze Art Fair 2008.
Landi Raubenheimer defends herself against last month's responses to her review of Willem Boshoff's show at the Standard Bank Gallery.
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