I left the the Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg knowing one thing. That I absolutely have to, one day, own a Robert Hodgins. I’ve been in love with this artist for years and years and truly regret not buying one of his pantings when they were still vaguely affordable.
The great thing about the Turbine Art Fair is that there is a ton of work that is both affordable and really exciting. This annual event is an incredible platform for galleries, curators and emerging artists to promote new work and talent. Artwork has to be below R 40 thousand (I find this high, but I guess I am not a collector or a millionaire) and there were indeed plenty of people with their credit cards in hand.
I discovered a bunch of new galleries – Art Vault, August House, Adet, Intoto and Out of the Cube – amongst others. Out of the Cube is definitely a favorite. They had some stunning paintings by a wide variety of artists (including Hodgins) and they only sell online. They’re a visual platform for contemporary art in South Africa and I love that they don’t have high gallery fees and a really great collection.
Of course all the well known galleries are there too – David Krut, Goodman, Momo, Artist’s Press, The Bag Factory, Stevenson – all with fabulous exhibitions, but I must say I really enjoyed exploring the new and undiscovered.
One of the most interesting programmes was the Emerging Artist Exhibition. This was funded by Rand Merchant Bank and work featured some of the best post-graduate paintings from fine arts departments across South Africa. I was blown away by the creativity these new artists displayed and definitely proud of the high level of South African art.
It isn’t all art. There is fantastic food and music. We sat outside in the winter sunshine listening to Steve Kuny play jazz piano. Steve Kuny was also exhibiting the most stunning photographs of the Karoo. He’s a multi-talented guy – a photographer, full time advocate, musician and just super inspiring; his pics were also in my price range. (way way under R 40 thousand…)
I loved the live art performance too. I didn’t catch the name of the artist but you could sit in front of her and she would draw your portrait – without ever looking down at her paper. And you could draw here, at the same time. A clever and fun idea.
JAG, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, were showcasing a selection of their regular collection, which included Picasso, Miro and Lichtenstein. These of course were not for sale and I hope they had really good security! Pretty astonishing to see these famous works in real life. There was a talk on the Saturday by Karel Nel (he is the JAG head of Acquisitions) about the JAG strategy towards buying art. There were some really interesting talks and lectures throughout the weekend.So I didn’t walk away with a Robert Hodgins, sadly, but I did walk away with a subscription to Art Times, which is an excellent publication if you want to keep up with the South African art scene. You can check it out at www.artimes.co.za.
The Turbine Art Fair was sponsored by The Forum Company who work closely with Turbine Hall in Newtown, organising local events and conferences. They did the most wonderful job! www.theforum.co.za