Archive: Issue No. 125, January 2008

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Night of 1000 Drawings 2007

Night of 1000 Drawings 2007

Anthea Moys

Anthea Moys
view from Lister Building, 2007

Lerato Shadi

Lerato Shadi
still from Hema (or Six hours of
out-breath captured in 792 balloons) 2007

Johan Thom

Johan Thom
Terms of Endearment 2007

Svea Josephy

Svea Josephy
Barcelona, South Africa (settlement) 2007
light jet print
1000 x 1000mm

Svea Josephy

Svea Josephy
Barcelona, Spain (pool) 2007
light jet print
1000 x 1000mm


Best of 2007

We invited our contributing Editors to submit their selection of what stood out in 2007. This is what we got.

Sue Williamson, founding Editor

1. The three best shows in 2007

'Africa Remix' at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Although the Simon Njami-curated 'Africa Remix' would have been even better with the weakest 25% of the work removed, leaving more wall and floor space for the rest, it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2007 to see on homeground work by renowned artists from all over the continent and the African diaspora, many known here previously only by reputation and internet image. The vast crowd which swelled the gallery on opening night attested to the intense interest in seeing such a show. More, please.

'Marlene Dumas - Intimate Relations' at Iziko South African National Gallery

In another homecoming of a sort, Marlene Dumas, who studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art , but has lived and worked in the Netherlands ever since, had her first ever solo show in this country with the Emma Bedford-curated 'Intimate Relations' at the SANG. As Virginia MacKenny pointed out in her ArtThrob review, to see a Dumas painting on the wall is a very different experience from seeing it in reproduction. The brilliant painterliness of the surfaces and the psychic strength of images made it clear exactly how Dumas has earned her international pre-eminence.

Moshekwa Langa at the Goodman Gallery Cape

The swift yet assured mark, the widely ranging imagery and subject matter, the mixed media, the humour, the power, the ability to engage the viewer in a dialogue - it's all at Langa's fingertips. I suppose if one word could be used to sum up Langa's work, it would be 'authentic'.

2. The three South African contemporary artists making the most interesting/compelling work

Andrew Putter

Andrew Putter has been an influential figure on the Cape Town art scene for many years, not only as artist but as one of the initiators of the Mother City Queer Project, curator and teacher. This year he has come back into his own as artist with his powerful 20 Smells event at which an invited audience was given an erudite lecture and olfactory experience, and his prize winning video at Spier Contemporary, Secretly I Love You More, in which a portrait of a costumed Maria de la Quellerie sings to a Khoikhoi child taken into her household.

Zanele Muholi

With a strong new series of work entitled Being exhibited at Michael Stevenson in 2007, Zanele Muholi moved beyond her badly edited and forgettable solo show of the year before. Her subject matter in Being was a compelling series of double portraits of black lesbians, photographed with intimacy and dignity. Subsequent bodies of work from this artist are equally engaging.

Nicholas Hlobo

Nicholas Hlobo's enthusiastic reception at the 2007 Armory Show in New York on the Michael Stevenson stand, where his mixed media drawings were snapped up, is not surprising. These drawings which often utilize the same materials as his installations and performances (black rubber, pink and blue ribbon), woven to heal the cuts the artist has incised into the surface, are amongst the most exciting works being made on paper in this country. His other work, exploring race, sexuality and gender, demands attention, too.

3. The South African contemporary artist making the best work in an international context

Robin Rhode

Now based in Berlin, Robin Rhode's solo show at Perry Rubenstein in New York, which filled all three of the gallery's different addresses, showed the scope of his work. The performative aspect continues, and one of my favourite pieces of the year was Candle, a simple black and white video which moves from positive to negative as Rhode attempts to get the wick of the candle to catch. New to me, at least, were quirky sculptural pieces from the artist which extended his practice from the wall to the floor.

4. Newcomer of the year

Rowan Smith

When one picks a newcomer, one hopes that this person is not just a flash in the art world pan, but winner of the 2007 Michaelis prize Rowan Smith showed enough ingenuity, obsession, technical skill and different ways of thinking in his student show to make this unlikely. If he keeps at it, that is. Particularly noted: three dot matrix printers hung in descending stair fashion from a ceiling. A continuous loop of paper passes through all three, each time receiving the image of several human figures somewhere on the surface. Presumably in the end the paper will blacken and disintegrate.

5. The most innovative/exciting/challenging/important curator or gallerist

Clive van den Berg

The thing about Clive van den Berg as a curator that everyone always talks about is his calmness under pressure. Even when the rain is pouring in on his daringly constructed space (from containers and a stretchy, tensile roof) for Spier Contemporary 2007. This calmness, a highly refined sense of museum aesthetics, and a willingness to go as far is necessary and work just as hard as it takes, makes Van den Berg my curator of the year. Go for it, Clive.

Rat Western, International Listings Editor

1. The three best shows in 2007

'Interruption' by Anthea Moys at Intermission, Johannesburg

Perhaps, it was because I had not been very impressed with Anthea Moys' earlier collaborative efforts with Juliana Smith (Kazoo, Armed Response II) that I was very pleasantly surprised by her Master's exhibition, 'Interruption'. Or perhaps it was because I had not seen so much of her work in one space that I had not realised how strong a sense of personal direction this artist possesses. Inside, Moys presented the results of the past two years, including her work from Switzerland and her Boxing Project from Kin:Be:Jozi amongst others. Outside she projected a video work onto an opposite building and presented a new boxing/exercise performance on one of the lower rooftops. It is a joy to see an artist take consideration of the context of a space and not simply treat it as another white cube.

Svea Josephy's 'Twin Town' at Bell Roberts

The comparison of two cities or towns with similar names is one of those simple, almost obvious yet incredibly intriguing ideas I almost wish I'd had myself. Like some child's game of match the columns or spot the difference, the viewer wants to see these connections made and is left wanting more. The power of these images is the absence of any human subject. Josephy escapes the trap of overwrought emotions that is all too common in documentary photography of individuals: she is not just taking pretty pictures. It is her choice and framing that send subtle emotive messages about place and their social, economic and climatic differences.

'Night of a 1000 Drawings' at Private Practice, Johannesburg

This is a bit left field, but I really enjoyed 'Night of a 1000 Drawings', a charity event in aid of Paballo, an inner city skills and feeding initiative. The venue was overcrowded, which was problematic, but having avoided the malfunctioning lift and climbed 17 flights of stairs, I was pleased to see an audience, predominantly from the design and architecture fields, who do not normally attend exhibition openings. The premise of the evening was to exhibit a collection of A5 drawings selling for R100 each. This was potentially disastrous. However, the standard of work was generally high with submissions from all over the country and as far afield as Australia. The drawings were snapped up, leaving the audience feeling good.

2. The three South African contemporary artists making the most interesting/compelling work

Lerato Shadi

Translating performance work to video without it becoming a boring documentation of the original is no mean feat. Lerato Shadi manages to do this very successfully and she is as relaxed at playing with the discomfort of the audience's proximity to the performer's physical presence as she is with exploring the potentials of re-editing time in her video work. Her contribution to 'Re:Action', a workshop and exhibition of performance art at the Bag Factory in August, and her exhibition 'Aboleleng and Hema', which showed at Michael Stevenson and at the JAG, are just the most recent examples.

Lawrence Lemaoana

One cannot go to an exhibition opening with Lawrence Lemaoana because invariably some or other collector will want to speak to him and one is left standing around like a bit of an idiot while said collector/gallerist blathers on. But, despite this attention, Lemaoana continues to possess a light-hearted, good humour which is evident in his work. It is this tongue-in-cheek quality which he uses to explore serious themes around the identity of a heterosexual, Zulu male in his current context. His most recent work pokes fun while questioning Jacob Zuma as role model for young Zulu men. Lemaoana takes a new look at the getting-stale identity theme - instead of an alienated, misunderstood stance, his is purely contradictory, refusing to be boxed. Oh, and he likes pink.

Johan Thom

In contrast to Lemaoana is Johan Thom who is very serious, at least when it comes to his work. Being a performance artist is not a lucrative occupation, but Thom is currently attempting it as a full-time pursuit. His work has a dark quality and even in jest, as in his Terms of Endearment, 2007 (the Omo video), he manages to keep a straight face. Not exactly a newcomer, Thom has paid his dues and is now reaping the benefits of exposure from a residency in Bangladesh, the biennale in the Canary Islands and an upcoming exhibition in Sienna .

3. The South African contemporary artist making the best work in an international context

Simon Gush

For me, one of the most frustrating things about South African culture is how something gains much more credibility if it has international validation. Simon Gush's curatorial projects in Johannesburg - specifically the 'Negotiate' series at JAG in 2004 and The Parking Gallery, an inner city project space, in 2006 - seem to have gleaned less national attention than his recent move to Belgium where he is currently a Candidate-Laureate at the Hoger Instituut van Schone Kunsten (HISK). Yet, ultimately, he benefits from his efforts here as there is no doubt that these projects helped him to be accepted into HISK. And here one can not sneer at the benefits of international exposure: in the last year Gush has exhibited on multiple group exhibitions in Europe and travelled to Chile where he participated in 'El Manifesto de Santiago' which was a collaborative project with Academy of Müat;nster, the University of Santiago and the HISK.

4. Newcomer of the year

Nina Barnett

Winning last year's Absa l'Atelier Gerard Sekoto prize, as well as one of the Spier awards, were two very big career starters for Nina Barnett who completed her BAFA at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007. Her modus operandi, at this stage, is generally quiet, understated yet amusing. Her emphasis is on video work which explores aspects of time-lapse, stop-frame animation, light and shadow, yet it is far from formalist. Underlying the work is subtle commentary about such things as security, paranoia, the passage of time, instability and social interaction.

5. The most innovative/exciting/challenging/important curator or gallerist

David Brodie

The opening of David Brodie's new gallery, artextra in Craighall, was probably a very good indication of how much the Johannesburg art scene needs something fresh - the place was packed out. For a scene that seems to be, at the moment, very much divided between two extremes - commercial galleries with stables of well-established artists and short-lived, ill-funded, experimental projects - artextra seems to promise something of a middle ground. Brodie's focus is primarily on emerging artists and he seeks to pair these new faces with more established names on exhibitions with strong yet unusual curatorial themes. The titles of the first four shows: 'Impossible Monsters'; 'The Trickster', 'Perfect Lovers' and 'Aftermath' seem to indicate a move towards more universal mythological and metaphorical themes then we have seen in the more identity-specific exhibitions of recent years, and I look forward to seeing some new voices.

Ed Young, New Media Editor, ArtThrob diarist

1. The three best shows in 2007

'Gimberg / Nerf / Sacks / Young' at SMAC Stellenbosch

'I Love New Work' by Ed Young, Locust Projects, Miami

'Hell Yeah', Museum of Contemporary Art, Cape Town, group show facilitated by Christian Nerf and Douglas Gimberg

2. The three South African contemporary artists making the most interesting/compelling work

Carine Zaayman

Malcolm Payne

Pieter van Heerden

3. The South African contemporary artist making the best work in an international context

Simon Gush

4. Newcomer of the year

Pippa Skotnes

5. The most innovative/exciting/challenging/important curator or gallerist

Carrie Lee Timlin

For 'The Inchoate, Idiosyncratic Descent into Nihilism' at Blank Projects, Cape Town.

Tavish McIntosh, Western Cape Editor

1. The three best shows in 2007

'Marlene Dumas: Intimate Relations' at SANG

Emma Bedford's 'Marlene Dumas: Intimate Relations' at SANG showed the potential for the gallery to show really dynamic and important contemporary art. Bedford's curation was especially astute with teaser artworks leading the viewer through the various halls of the institution until the sumptuous collection was revealed. I loved the intimate details revealed through the glass panes of the display cabinets where Dumas' sketches and notebooks were collected.

'Afterlife' at the Michael Stevenson Gallery

The Sophie Perryer-curated, deeply intellectual 'Afterlife' helped the Michael Stevenson Gallery to stamp its mark on 2007, despite the repeated challenges of Cape Town's upstarts (especially that of a certain Woodstock establishment). The show sticks in my mind as one of the most well-considered collections of artworks, designed specifically to open the interpretative arena - which is always a thrill for a writer.

Cape '07

Finally I'm going to go out on a limb here and award an 'Oscar' to Cape Africa Platform for Cape '07 which - although fatally flawed in many aspects (do we need to rehash that?) - offered the opportunity for people to see the most majestic, fun and innovative contemporary production. Performance, installation and new media all got their chance. Divided across various formal and informal venues, the show came together when one took the Cape bus tour. (Of course, if you weren't able to take the bus, the shows were too scattered to make it really worthwhile.) Cape '07 built an important platform for deliciously informal but nonetheless critical interventions. Let's hope they can keep up the momentum for the 2009 event�

2. The three South African contemporary artists making the most interesting/compelling work

Moshekwa Langa

Moshekwa Langa's show at the Goodman Gallery Cape confirmed his status as one of South Africa's most fascinating and enigmatic protagonists. His work is riddled with allusions to the personal and collective unconscious, and takes account of the perils and pitfalls of the post-colonial mindset. His aesthetic is hard to categorise except to say that is a challenge to the very foundations of traditionalism. The appearance of glitter glue in his repertoire aptly demonstrated this, showing the key aspect of Langa's work is his laid back attitude towards the usual hallmarks of serious artistic practise.

James Webb

James Webb's chaise-longue at the 'Afterlife' show was a definite highlight of the year - strange that the 'best' artworks often seem to put me to sleep... Webb has got to be one of the most crazy but creative artists out there.

Nandipha Mntambo

Mntambo's unusual choice of medium - cowhide - allows her to exploit the repulsion and attraction of abject materiality. Shaping them upon moulds of her own and others' bodies, the hides become both part of and supplementary to the (later absented) body. This ambivalent status gives the work its power. Mntambo updates the early feminists' work with the body into the contemporary context, adding fresh nuances of meaning to the female form. Her solo exhibition at Michael Stevenson also showed that Mntambo is not afraid to push the boundaries a little.

3. The South African contemporary artist making the best work in an international context

Mikhael Subotsky

Photography in South Africa is an increasingly important mode of expression with a finely tuned critical edge. Pieter Hugo�s Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year award and Mikhael Subotsky's KLM-Paul Huf Award show that photography needs to be taken seriously in the fine art context. With this in mind, Subotsky's ability to tread the fine line between documentary and fine art photography illuminates the limitations and possibilities of both genres, making him my choice. His outings at Goodman Gallery Cape were simply inspiring.

4. The newcomer of the year

Avant Car Guard

The trio behind Avant Car Guard is intent on making the most of the post-apartheid, post-colonial, post-modern situation, generating an ironic and incisive commentary on the meaning of art production in contemporary South Africa. Although I'm not sure they count as newcomers, because they have been plying their trade in Johannesburg for a time, with a recent show in Cape Town (that art capital of the world) and another in New York (small fry really), their national and international profile is rising... (in other words I only noticed them this year).

The trio pay tribute to the leftover foibles and follies of various avant-garde 'masters' - often creating a fantastically ironic pastiche of the assumptions that underlie this revered convention - with a decidedly offbeat and irreverent nod to contemporary politics in the art world.

5. The most innovative/exciting/challenging/important curator or gallerist in contemporary South African art

Emma Bedford

The movement away from the national institutions into the more commercial/cutting-edge arenas has loosed the likes of Emma Bedford, Gabi Ngcobo and Kirsty Cockerill onto the scene. Blooded at the SANG, the three have continued to pull punches around the Cape Town art world. But for her consistency and determination I think Bedford gets this one. Her transition to director of the Goodman Gallery Cape has given her the opportunity to branch out, and she has produced a plethora of interesting shows throughout the season - not to mention her coup with the Marlene Dumas show at the SANG.

Carol Brown, Durban Editor

1. The three best shows in 2007

The Magic Flute directed by William Kentridge

Maybe not strictly an art exhibition but a well known classic opera which became an exciting contemporary multi-media production because of Kentridge's artistic creation which dissected the Enlightenment values prevalent at the time of the opera's writing. Seeing his well known images such as those of a rhino, a telescope or a bird coming to life on the stage and being created by lasers was an amazing experience and reinforced the fact that the visual arts can be separated from the space of the gallery and take their place in a wider context. His work more than enhanced the opera and became the talking point of the country. The dramatic moment of the Queen of the Night being surrounded by the stars will linger for a long time.

Santu Mofokeng at the Durban Art Gallery

This exhibition, curated by the SANG and Standard Bank Gallery, was a mid-career retrospective described as a survey show. It served to reinforce why Mofokeng has attained such prominence. His photographs of the landscape such as the one with the Democracy Forever billboard and the various views of Robben Island managed to be both ironic and beautiful. The enduring image for me was the portrait of his brother before his death from Aids. Mofokeng catches that liminal space between life and death in a manner which suggested spirituality and tenderness and is a significant image in the growing iconography around Aids.

Johannes Phokela at the KZNSA Gallery

Johannes Phokela's 'Compendium' at the KZNSA was the artist's first showing in Durban in spite of his prominence in the South African art world. His take on history, and the history of western painting in particular was challenging. It aroused much debate and the artist's engagement with contemporary issues such as the role of painting and its commercialisation, and representations of issues such as greed and power, made it a show which entered the current discourse in the international arena around the role of painting.

2. The three South African contemporary artists making the most interesting/compelling work

Kathryn Smith

Kathryn Smith's installation 'In Camera' at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg was another in a line of intellectual and technically sophisticated explorations of her ongoing interest into forensic evidence. Her studies of this science play with notions of truth and deception and this excellent exhibition reinforces those contradictions. The feeling of confusion and loss over these crimes was conveyed by this installation which had elements of drama and dislocation.

Nandipha Mntambo

Nandipha Mntambo, who recently attained her Master's Degree from Michaelis, presented her first show at the Michael Stevenson Gallery. She has rapidly established herself as one of our most exciting young artists. Her use of cowhide to examine aspects of her identity is extremely powerful and has resonances of many associations such as femininity, tradition and the abuse of animals. This latter aspect is reinforced by her bullfighting projects, and it is no surprise to learn that she is a vegetarian. Her work pushes issues of identity, which are frequently studied by female artists, into a wider context and she uses skin in an innovative and considered manner.

Karel Nel

Well respected and established artist Karel Nel is busy with a new project, mapping 2 square degrees of the universe with astronomers who have established that some of the light they see goes back 8 000 000 years, is an exciting one. Nel's use of carboniferous material formed on Gondwanaland before the splitting of the continents reinforces the sense of time and the build up and traces of history. This work was shown, with other work produced on an uninhabited island in the Seychelles, on the exhibition 'Lost Light' presented by the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. The collaboration between art and science is a well known one and the use of the findings and explorations of modern science to produce artwork is at its most sophisticated in Nel's current work.

Michael MacGarry

Although I haven't seen much of this Durban-born and trained artist's work, his appearance on the KZNSA show 'Right Before Your Eyes' made me keen to see more. I have come across work on a few group shows around the country and been aware of Avant Car Guard's new publication as well as their performances. They have a strong social critique which extends to a global view and is rendered with cheek and humour. MacGarry was previously a curator at the Premises Gallery and is engaged in the art scene at various levels.

3. The South African contemporary artist making the best work in an international context

This has to be Marlene Dumas. Her work is constantly included in international shows and I was recently very impressed with her contribution to 'The Painting of Modern Life' at the Hayward in London. The fact that last year her work also achieved the highest price for any living woman artist on auction, is a rare achievement. Her exhibition at the SANG provided a great insight into a body of work which has not previously been seen in the country despite her high profile internationally.

4. Newcomer of the year

I am going to stretch this category a bit. The most exciting newcomers in the Durban environment have been the galleries. Bank Gallery is an exciting addition to the local art scene and this conversion of an old bank building into a white cube space was a much anticipated event. The owners intend to make this into a contemporary space which will show artists from South Africa and England. It opened with much flourish and excitement in October. Brenton Maart from Johannesburg moved to the KZNSA this year and has given the gallery a new, distinct image with some fine shows, while yet another new gallery opened in December. Artisan, owned by Sue Greenberg, specialises in ceramics by the likes of Martha Zettler, the Nala family and others. Like Bank Gallery it is situated on Florida Road which is emerging as the art centre of the city.

5. The most innovative/exciting/challenging/important curator or gallerist

This has been a good year for curators. The new Goodman Cape has entered the fray under the excellent direction of Emma Bedford and Storm Janse Van Rensburg, whilst the Michael Stevenson team has produced many superb exhibitions and continued their wonderful catalogue production which is so important in the writing of South African art history. However, the coup of the year has to be the showing of 'Africa Remix', so curator of the year, in my mind, is Clive Kellner. This was a great achievement given the budgetary constraints in an institution such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery and Kellner pulled out all the stops and just did it. I saw the show a few years ago at the Hayward in London and thought the curation at the JAG was far more interesting. The JAG has also shown many important shows and people are now flocking there - the opening of 'Africa Remix' drew a record crowd and a great international contingent to the formerly feared Joubert Park precinct.

Michael Smith, Johannesburg Editor

1. The three best shows in 2007

Jacques Coetzer at The Johannesburg Art Gallery�s Project Room

Given the nebulous frippery of many shows by younger SA artists, I've become a bit of a sucker for a tight exhibition that knows what it's about. In Ed Harris' Pollock (2000), Jeffrey Tambor playing Clement Greenberg dismisses an early show of Big Jack's work, quipping to Lee Krasner that it contained 'a lot of mud'. Well, if rotund old Clem was in town for Jacques ('Jaak' to his chinas) Coetzer's 'Alt Pop', he would have battled to find any mud there. Coetzer collapsed the roles of artist and curator into one in this finely crafted, perfectly poised body of work that felt like a hit album. You know, like when you brought Surfer Rosa home for the first time, and couldn't believe how every track was great? 'Alt Pop' was a bit like that for me.

Frances Goodman at the Goodman Gallery

In case you've been under a rock for the last 15 years of SA art, here's a heads-up: aesthetic fashions here seem to function in a manner not too dissimilar from their couture counterparts. In other words, fickle, self-aggrandising and engendering slavish adherence. A generation ago, everyone and their mother had a hard-on for video art, and Sony et al must've rubbed their hands in glee as a veritable army of fine artists cast aside their Leicas and turned to the Handycam to produce more crap art than is strictly healthy for such a small country.

In fact, I strongly suspect that my main motive for getting into art writing was to cruelly torment video artists with vicious verbal beatdowns. These days, I smile just thinking about all the scathing phraseology I'm going to use describing the pallid fair we're all about to enjoy as SA art moves into its 'sound phase'. Happily, Frances Goodman gave me little cause to do so with her show 'Wishful Thinking'. Goodman seemed keen to sidestep sound's propensity for indulgent abstraction, keeping her focus trained on the human voice throughout the exhibition. Language, and its life-support system, accent, were well-balanced as this young artist picked at some of our more tenacious social scars. Goodman isn't yet too starry-eyed by the medium to forget about content, thank God. Long may this restraint last.

Gerhard Marx at Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Art

One of the bonuses of living in Jo'burg, besides a heightened sense of aggression which may come in handy at a nightclub someday, is the fact that every now and then we get the jump on Cape Town in seeing hot new work by young artists. Gerhard Marx's first showing of 'photo:-' at Warren Siebrits had an appropriate sense of occasion about it. One had the feeling that you were seeing something important, and that you were in on a great secret before the rest of the country got to see it. Marx was also the subject of my favourite surreal moment of the year: listening to Radio Sonder Grense one evening, I heard Marx's wife, artist Maja Marx, interviewing him for her art-oriented talk show on that channel. Apparently, sometimes radio journalism is stranger than fiction�

2. The three South African contemporary artists making the most interesting/compelling work

Zander Blom

While some aspects of Zander Blom's ideas don't interest me, particularly his preoccupation with Modernism, I really like the idea of a crazy young dude running around his house making ephemeral constructions in corners, photographing them for no apparent purpose and then dismantling them again, only to reuse components in other works. The fact that many of the works are produced at night or in the small hours of the morning makes the entire process seem all the more manic, and all the more interesting.

Mikhael Subotsky

I know I big-upped the other cool MS on the scene in last year's ArtThrob round up, but Mikhael Subotsky's show at Goodman Gallery Cape in September 2007 reminded me of his power and importance. He seems to be emerging from the considerable shadows of Guy Tillim and Sue Williamson, creating his own urgent images for urgent times.

Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice. Anyone who makes such unsentimental, unapologetic images of teen sex in an age where dire warnings and titillation seem like flipsides of the same coin, deserves a mention here. The new body of images by Brice seem to productively combine the stridency her early sex-work images with 2006's spectral and speculative 'Night Vision' paintings.

3. The South African contemporary artist making the best work in an international context

All I have to say for this one is that I think Penny Siopis should be the subject of a major retrospective at the SANG and then at the Standard Bank Gallery. She's the better painter.

4. Newcomer of the year

I'm stretching the definition of 'newcomer' a bit here, but my vote goes to Wilhelm ('Willie' to his buds) Saayman for his show 'The girl who always ignored me got hit by a bus'. Although Saayman has made some forays into the art world before, showing paintings and video art, this body of work marks his proper emergence onto the scene, with a fully evolved approach and iconography. The show had greater nuances and moments of incredible tenderness than a thousand Sasol Wax Art Award or a Spier show could ever muster.

5. The most innovative/exciting/challenging/important curator or gallerist

One can never escape how powerful the business aspects of art determine what we see and what gets canonised. So it's heartening to meet gallerists who are willing to try to balance business acumen with sound historical/conceptual threads. My joint award goes to David Brodie and Warren Siebrits. Although he is a relative newcomer as a solo act, Brodie seems intent on retaining a critical edge while making his way in the deep end of the shark tank. Siebrits' schedule of shows continues to reveal a compelling knowledge of and interest in the history of SA visual culture.


ARTTHROB EDITIONS FOR ARTTHROB