Sue Williamson said in her December ArtThrob editorial that 2007 was ‘not a bad year’ for SA art. As the backbone of this ‘ArtThrob lite’ update, our various contributors get a chance to opine about the good, the better and the challenging from 2007 in their various regions and/or valences. What’s refreshing to see is that this isn’t simply a list of usual suspects and safe choices. Rather, it is evident that the ArtThrob team is increasingly functioning as a network of journalists with its collective finger on the pulse of important SA art. The absence of consensus about what constitutes quality is very healthy.
Internationally, Bonhams of London is gearing up for a very significant sale of South African modern art on January 30. A gushing mail received by ArtThrob states that the auction is set to net as much as R70M (₤5M). This may seem a optimistic, but given the general buoyancy of the global art market over the last few years, and especially the headline-garnering prices recently paid for works by Irma Stern and Marlene Dumas, amongst others, Bonhams’ projections may not be too far fetched.
The first-ever Spier Contemporary visual art show opened in December at the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, stretching into January this year. Described in the art press with notable variety, the show is an important step on the road to recovery of the SA art competition circuit. Despite obvious shortcomings, Spier seems to embody a fluidity and an enthusiasm that often remains absent from other local competitions.
Looking forward, the JHB art scene is about to receive a major shot in the arm in the form of the first Joburg Art Fair, set to happen in March of this year. Art fairs inevitably have a different dynamic to curated and funded Biennales and their ilk: this promises to generate plenty column inches as local stakeholders theorize about the machinations of the art market, and its effect on creative production. Will the Joburg Art Fair be proof that the local scene has finally grown up, or will it represent the most unpalatable kind of speculative manoeuvring possible? ArtThrob waits in anticipation for this most important phenomenon.
NEXT UPDATE: February 3.
SPECIAL FEATURE: 2007 ROUND-UP
As the plethora of hooting 'GP' number plates become a distant memory and the festive spending spree has run its course, things quieten down and Cape Town begins preparing itself for the year ahead. That said, the battle for heavyweight champion of Cape Town between Michael Stevenson Gallery and Goodman Gallery Cape continues. Squaring up this month are David Goldblatt and Kathryn Smith.
Things have yet to get going, even in Gauteng, so galleries are still a little quiet. Most notably, Allison Kearney and Emily Stainer show at the Goodman Gallery and Keith Dietrich presents his 'Fourteen Stations of the Cross' at Fried Contemporary.
Durban is still recovering from the festive season's heat and parties. However, the 'Light Show' at the Bank Gallery promises an exciting start to the new year with a group of prominent artists participating in an illuminating (!) exhibition. Issues of identity are still being explored by the KZNSA members in their annual exhibition. The new generation also gets its chance to shine in the other annual event - the KZN matric art exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery.
Emerging artists, including Bridget Baker, Nandipha Mntambo, Sean Slemon and James Webb, are selected for '.ZA', an exhibition of young art from South Africa co-curated by Marlene Dumas, Kendell Geers, Bernie Searle, Minnette Vári and Sue Williamson. Kentridge shows a series called Tapestries at Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Robin Rhode takes part in 'Momentary Momentum' an exhibition of animated drawings at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge.
Reviewing the first installation of the bi-annual Spier Contemporary, housed in a temporary structure made from shipping containers and elastic membrane, Tavish McIntosh argues that the massive scale of the selection process let curators make some interesting and unconventional choices. This, she goes on, was both the strength and the weakness of the show, giving young artists a chance to show their potential but also glutting the show with mediocre pieces. Fabian Saptouw is on the student show beat this month. He reviews the Michaelis School of Fine Art graduate show, where he was impressed with the students' clear and thorough explorations in their fields of interest. He opts to spend more time on the show's successes than its minor frustrations. He also makes it clear that the trek out to the University of Stellenbosch from Cape Town was worth his while. Again he outlines some of the more successful student work.
A conference organised by the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo takes place in Norway, posing the question, 'Are there foreigners in Art?'.
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.
ArtThrob is looking for a new Gauteng Editor. 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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