The Cape Town Art Fair held at the International Cape Town Convention Centre was in many ways exactly like the fair we all attended in 2020, just before COVID made its way to South Africa, and completely different!
During the last three years we became use to the self-isolation, going for months without seeing friends and loved ones. Stuck at home with only the digital art world to explore and enjoy. We wondered if it will still be relevant to have a physical gallery space, a museum building, or an actual fair which to be honest is a mammoth project to organize and set up not even talking about the costs involved. We thought perhaps we will not miss it, or we will be happy to view art from behind our computer screens and this we discovered was not true…
We enjoyed the opening events especially organized by the participating galleries leading up to the main event. We loved to meet the artists and see their work and walk around the sculptures. We loved the special brunch events and going to the parties celebrating the achievements by the various participants.
The fair was the busiest I have ever experienced over the last ten years – it was buzzing until the end with many still visiting on Sunday afternoon. What I particularly loved was that there were many local visitors and not just the usual international guests. The chosen artworks exhibited I felt was more on the safe side but after talking to the various galleries that participated, they experienced good sales and felt it was worth their effort. The exhibition that won the 1st prize was Blank Projects for their very cutting edge and almost minimalist approach to curating their space. Interestingly the gallery owner, Jonathon Garnham remarked that he wished that his gallery could be better supported by South African collectors, perhaps an area in our market we need to develop.
My favorite artwork at the fair was the majestic sculpture by Nandipha Mntambo that was displayed at the Everard Read gallery exhibition. For me Mntambo askes very important questions about African history, who are the custodians of these histories as well as the place of the black female body within these narratives. Her work demanded attention towering above all the other artworks at the fair: a three times life size sculpture other dressed as queen Hangbe that ruled the Dahomey people in the early 1700s (modern day Benin Republic).
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