ART TIMES THE SOUTH AFRICAN
South African Art Times Supplement March 2009 • Full version also available at www.arttimes.co.za
Norman O’Flynn: The World Needs Me. Showing: Wednesday 07 March - 11 April at Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za
Fanning the Flames What and who is fanning the bonfire in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town
ART PIG Alex Dodd ‘Witty, slick and so un-mannered!’ reads the comment from Donald Fair. ‘A most original, satirical view. Highly amusing – if only Africa was!’ scrawls Sharroll First in the heavily inscribed visitors’ book. I have returned to the Goodman Gallery on a quiet Thursday afternoon to Brett Murray’s show, Crocodile Tears, to discern whether the show has the same knockout impact beyond the dizziness of the social spin.
So, yes, laugh out loud! Laugh in the same crazed way we laugh with the pranksters who dreamed up that insane cocktail of irreverence that is Little Britain, which royally takes the piss out of Blair’s Cool Britannia. It is good know we can laugh at the direness of things
Work from Brett Murray’s Crocodile Tears show at Goodman Gallery Jhb. My opening night reaction was unequivocal. I don’t remember laughing so loudly and gutturally in response to a work of art since I first saw Duchamp’s urinal at the Pompidou. Murray’s show is so wildly uncoweringly satirical of the current South African status quo, slashing into former president Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance bluster with his rapier wit, that I felt physically elated by his boldness – liberated by his absence of compunction. It is not a feeling I am used to. Most of the time, South Africans tend to couch their public commentary in political correctness, saving their vitriol for drunken dinner party catharsis, road rage or to be worked out in the fitful throes of a nightmare. But here it is in the full glare of the spotlight. A dazzlingly reflective rendition of the word ‘Renaissance’ lazer cut in slick stainless steel cursive, followed by the abbreviations ‘(Pty) Ltd’ in a tidy sans serif font. Can someone really be speaking so directly of the avarice behind the grand vision for a continent? Can it be real? Oh, yes. Yes, it can! Next up is a little golden plaque, neatly inscribed with the following: ‘Every time I hear you sing the machine gun song, I want to find one and shove it up your fat arse.’ My sentiments exactly! And I don’t seem to be alone. This quiet Thursday afternoon is punctuated by the sighting of multiple red stickers, standing out like bold affirmations
. It reminds us that we’re not buying into the balderdash of diplomacy and the million empty payoff lines that punctuate our mediated lives. I have also returned to the gallery to appreciate the formal prowess of Murray’s show, which seamlessly inhabits an array of media, from sculpture to silkscreens, to large-scale photographs… Were it not so immaculately produced, one might be slightly less inclined to take his humour so seriously. But this is a truly dazzling show in its formal execution alone. Edgar Allan Poe coined the term ‘unity of effect’ to refer to the coherence of metaphoric language that is essential to the economy of a short story. This show is a triumph of ‘unity of effect’. There are no irrelevant stylistic glitches. From the bouffant parlour wigs and the fool’s gold, to the line, ‘Let them eat pap’ (a classic twist on Marie Antoinette’s follyful utterance), that precarious air of insouciant indulgence that defined pre-Revolutionary France is repeatedly invoked. The weeping aristocratic dandies and duchesses that inhabit the ‘Shame’ series of offset lithographs appear again in the ‘Crocodile Tears’ wall sculptures in metal, paint and fools gold. Each work is a reference to every other work on the show. It is a true body of works. So, returning to the visitors’ book, I find myself in total agreement with Ma’at Sankofa who declares: ‘Amen!’
THE ART COWBOY Peter Machen It’s too hot to move and it’s too hot to think. Those words perfectly sum up the reason why productivity drops off the graph at the height of a Durban summer. From the middle of December until the end of January not a whole lot gets done in eThekwini that doesn’t have to do with christmas shopping, post-christmas sales or sorting out tax returns. February isn’t any cooler – in fact it’s when the thermometer is at its most erect – but the year has to start at some point. And occasionally, at the end of even the hottest of days, a cool breeze from who knows where will drift past, providing the briefest of respites and offering, above all, the promise of winter – when work and making things becomes a much more pleasant prospect. There was no promise of winter at the Durban Art Gallery for the opening of Not Alone: An international project of Make Art Stop Aids, the air-conditioning no match for the breath and body heat generated by the packed gallery. The exhibition, which first showed in Los Angele’s Fowler Museum, is unusual for a museum show in that it is re-curated as it moves around the globe. (Even the title Not Alone, has been added to the Durban leg, and will probably stay as it moves around South Africa and then to India and Brazil). In his opening speech David Gere, who co-curated the remarkable show with former DAG director Carol Brown, commented on the large crowd, saying that such numbers would never be present at an opening in LA. He also remarked on what an extraordinary institution the Durban Art Gallery is. Later, speaking to him on the balcony of one of Durban’s grand old houses – designed and built to provide respite from a summer in the colonies and now a guesthouse from heaven – he expanded on his comments, saying that he has not seen a public institution anywhere in the world engage with the epidemic with the intensity and breadth of the Durban art gallery, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that it was a public body exhibiting work that was – until very recently – mostly at odds with national policies. With such an exhibition, it’s tempting to point out standout works, but the curatorial consistency of Not Alone was so rigorous – without being smooth – that I think it’s fair to say that every piece contributed equally to a show about a microscopic virus on a small planet and the infinite human responses to the epidemic. At the same time, size and immediacy are often the parameters for determining which works from a show leave the most
impact and visitors to Not Alone are unlikely to forget the astounding Kieskama altarpiece, created by the residents of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape where most of the community is infected by HIV and the entire community affected. (The work, which has spent the last few years touring cathedrals in the United States was not part of the LA show because it was too large.) Neither will audiences be quick to forget Daniel Goldstein’s strangely ethereal Medicine Man – constructed from syringes and medical bottles used over the course of more than two decades of living with HIV – or Brenton Maart’s large format work Crossword which was both cryptic and confontational, depicting events in a gay sex club. In our balcony conversation Gere suggested Maart’s piece was a vitally important element of the show - not the least because it acknowledges the explicit nature of sex and the virus in a country where millions are infected and the sex lives of our politicians hog the headlines but we still don’t want to talk intimately about the sexual act.
sort of decision will be made within the next couple of months. For anyone who has been following this saga, it seems not only like an awfully long time, but plenty of procrastination. How difficult is it to put a sign up and explain the whole affair? Surely this is where curatorial suss kicks in? Alex Emsley
of support for Murray’s dissent. Alongside the Umshini wami rip off is a graphic Modernist rendering of a pipe above the words: ‘Ceci n’est pas un president’ – a riff on Rene Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe. A pipe does not a president make. Here, here! The chuckles graduate to belly laughs at the sight of the work below; an elaborately graphic rendering of a small black abyss captioned: ‘The President’s arsehole rendered in the Renaissance style!’ Now he’s really taking it to the limits. Is this too much? Or perhaps just a sharp dose befitting the behaviour that provoked such irreverent ire? For those of us who feel that Thabo Mbeki sold us down the river with all his noble talk and divisive actions, it’s com forting to know that our outrage is a shared sentiment; to have the empty pomp of political rhetoric brought down a notch or two.
THE ARTFUL VIEWER Melvyn Minnaar New and Neglected at Iziko The boss of the Iziko museums of Cape Town (there are twelve, in case you didn’t know, and the Xhosa word means ‘hearth’), Prof Jatti Bredenkamp, was on the radio the other day taking part in a phone-in programme. He did a great job in as much as radio requires neat sentences, well-pronounced and expressive language. And, to be fair, he made a few interesting remarks - like his staff were working on an exhibition about Table Mountain (...). But when an angry caller asked why the folk manning the Castle of Good Hope were so unfriendly and unhelpful, he did what all politicians do: he sounded at first deeply hurt and then promised to act immediately. Like all those skilled in politico sweet-talking ways, he cunningly shifted the blame. Why was the complainant using the public media and not speaking to him personally? We all know the strategy.
Adriana Bertini Thandi - condom dress
The piece from Maart, who is curator of the KZNSA Gallery, was one of two important works from local curators of contemporary spaces. The other work came from Robert Fraser of Bank Gallery, and despite knowing Rob well and reading the work’s title notes, I still somehow presumed that the work had come from LA and was part of the initial wave of late 80s art produced in response to the virus. It was only when chatting to Bank co-curator Henrietta Hamilton that I realised that it was Rob (my brain doesn’t easily do surnames) who had made the work. Entitled Separation, the elegantly simple piece consisted of a frame of black tape which contained a small corner of the gallery, and which, on the simplest level, talks about how easily and arbitrarily we divide ourselves from each other. It also engaged beautifully with the baroque architecture of the gallery, and like the broader project of Make Art Stop Aids, will change with each venue in which it shows. Fraser is hardly the first artist to make effective use of plastic tape as a framing device but in the context of Not Alone, the piece worked to beautiful effect, reducing the entire human world and all its viruses and prejudices into a simple line which dared you to cross it. And I had a lot of fun jumping back and forth over that line, moving in and out of the picture, in and out of art.
As it turns out, this artful viewer had been to the Castle the very previous day (to attend one of the lesser pieces in the Spier ‘Infecting the City’ festival). The place is in a pretty tatty condition (as is the façade of the SA National Gallery grand dame in the Gardens, by the way). Yet the Iziko staff seem to be doing their best in the general chaotic circumstances of the haphazard environment. A day later, driving past in Muizenberg, a visitor asked about the decrepit-looking building that used to be the Natale Labia museum. The complicated story about how this gift to the nation became a bright satellite to the SANG and then fell out of favour and its ornate, pristine condition, is a sad Iziko chapter (though not only their fault). On radio Bredenkamp referred to the controversial Khoisan/Bushman diorama at the SA Museum which now has been boarded up for years. He promised that some
Curatorial expertise, of course, is very much the talking point in art museum circles these past few months. With most of the country’s art museums within directors, one wonder whether this is a sign of the times. (Has money lured expertise away from those notvery-generous salaries? Or have public art institutions abdicated their role?) This could be one of the reasons that Iziko took forever to find a replacement for Marilyn Martin. The colourful former director of the SA national collection retired in August as ‘director of art collections’(the bureaucratic title suited to the Iziko organogram). But one can just imagine the wheeling and dealing that went on behind the scenes to get the ‘right person’. (This is where art and politics cross.) It wasn’t a happy time at the SANG without a director, but, let’s be fair, there have been some nice exhibitions (well, except the odd Intimate Distance) and the place is quite lively. (So is the SA Museum across the way.) Just as February was ending, word got out (well, sort of - Iziko’s PR system is a little dysfunctional too and Bredenkamp didn’t announce it on radio) that Riason Naidoo has been appointed as director of art collections from May. A sigh of relief went though the Gardens. (Another, sad sigh, accompanied the departure of hardworking Cynthia Querido, Iziko’s press person.) Not much is known about Naidoo, except, a week or so before, he featured (wearing a becoming outfit) in Jacques Pauw’s documentary about the opening of the Ahmed Baba Library in Timbuktu. We know from that that he gets along in French. Durban born Naidoo, who has a MFA from Wits (2007), was project manager of the South Africa/Mali project which led to the building and that restoration project in Timbuktu. He has specialised in photography, having put together photographic shows on identity politics and memory. His exhibition The Indian in Drum magazine was a most recent project. Let’s hope Naidoo brings along that boost of professional energy that Iziko (and art, in particular) can do with. Of course, the position (previously called director of the SANG) is one of great significance. Let’s wish him well.
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SOUTH AFRICAN ART GALLERY SHOW LISTINGS FOR MARCH Eastern Cape
784 2847 www.galleryonthesquare.co.za
Alliance Francaise, Johannesburg 11-14 Mar, Shaping Shadows, Pam GuhrsCarr; 19-25 Mar, Linx, Olivier Company and Happy Dhlame; 26 Mar - 02 Apr, The Gautrain Constructivism & Urbanism, exhibition by Patric de Mervelec. 17 Lower Park Drive (corner of Kerry Road),Parkview,Johannesburg. T. 011 646 1169 www.alliance.org.za
Ann Bryant Art Gallery 20 Mar - 04 Apr, ABSA L’Atelier Awards Regional Selection/Exhibition; 28 Mar, Art in the Garden; 05-21 Mar, For the love of Art, The art club Group Exhibition; 9 St Marks Road, Southernwood, East London T. 043 722 4044, Annbryant@intekom.co.za
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Until 05 Apr,Beyond the Documentary Photograph, Contemporary South African Photography, curated by Heidi Erdmann & Jacob Lebeko 1 Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, Tel. (041) 506 2000 www.artmuseum.co.za
Bloemfontein Oliewenhuis Art Museum Until 08 April,Transitions, Travelling Exhibition and film, by Paul Emmanuel. 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein T. 051 447 9609
Johannesburg Afronova Modern and Contemporary Art Until 21 Mar,Solo Exhibition, Hidden Side, by Dominique Zinkpe. Cnr. Miriam Makeba and Gwi Gwi Mrwebi Street, Newtown, Johannesburg www.afronova.com Artspace - JHB 07-28 Mar, Partial Observation, Works in mixed media, by Happy Dhlame. Chester Court, 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg. T. 011 880 8802 www.artspace-jhb.co.za Brodie/Stevenson Until 21 Mar, Self/Not-Self, a two-part curated exhibition that explores modes of self-representation across a range of contemporary art practices. Pieter07-2 Hugo, Lunga Kama, Anton Kannemeyer, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Serge Alain Nitegeka,Tracy Payne, Berni Searle and Lerato Shadi. 373 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg T. 011 326 0034, www.artextra.co.za AOP Gallery Art on Paper 07-26 Mar, Recent drawings and prints by Conrad Botes, Anton Kannemeyer and Henning Wagenbrath; 28 Mar-15 Apr, New etchings and monotypes by Robert Hodgins. 44 Stanley Ave, Braamfontein Werf (Milpark), Tel. (011) 726 2234 www.artonpaper.co.za David Brown Fine Art Until 11 Mar,North by North East (re)visited: an important collection of South African Polychrome Sculpture 1990 – 1994 Noria Mabasa, Freddy Ramabulana, Owen Ndou, Goldwin Ndou, Philip Rikhotso, Johannes Maswanganye, and Samson Mudzunga 39 Keyes Ave,off Jellicoe, Rosebank, Johannesburg. T. 011 788 4435 www.davidbrownfineart.co.za David Krut Art Resources Until 16 Mar, Swamp Eyes, Curated Exhibition of works of paper by: Ryan Arenson, Willem Boshoff, Wim Botha, Gail Behrmann, Willie Cole (US), Claire Gavronsky, William Kentridge, Alive Maher (UK), Suzanne McClelland (US), Colin Richards, Michelle Segre (US), Rose Shakinovsky, Sean Slemon, Kiki Smith (US), Nathaniel Stern, Sandile Zulu. 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg T. 011 447 0627 www.davidkrutpublishing.com Everard Read Gallery Jhb 19 Mar - 19 Apr, The Great South African Nude, paintings and sculptures by various Everard Read Artists, 6 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg T. 011 788 4805 www.everard.co.za Gallery MOMO 19 Mar - 14 Apr, The return of the man behind, Multi-disciplinary work by Rodney Place; Ransome Stanley, In touch, Solo exhibition of paintings. 27 Mar - 14 Apr 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg T.011 327 3247 www.gallerymomo.com Gallery on the Square Until Mar 09, An eclectic mix of South African contemporary fine art, sculpture and ceramics. 32 Maude Street, Nelson Mandela Square at Sandton City, Sandton, Johanesburg. T.(011)
Goodman Gallery 12 Mar - 18 Apr, Jeremy Wafer. 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, T. 011 788 1113 www.goodman-gallery.com Nirox Foundation and Goodman Gallery Opens 25 Mar, Contemporary Sculpture in the Landscape, various artists, at the Cradle of Humankind. Contact the Goodman Gallery for viewing and walkabouts, by appointment only. T. 011 788 1113 www.goodman-gallery.com GordArt Gallery GordArt Gallery (main Space) 14 Mar - 11 April, sculptural works and Found objects, Sarel Petrus and Edzard Du Plessis, GordArt Project Room (Upstairs) 14 Mar - 11 Apr, Kirsten Watson, works in mixed media. Shop 1 Parkwood Mansions, 144 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood, t/f 011 880 5928 email@example.com Graham Fine Art Gallery South African Investment Art From the permanent collection (011) 465 9192, Shop 31, Broadacres Lifestyle Centre, Cnr. Valley & Cedar Roads Fourways, Johannesburg. www.grahamsgallery.co.za Johannesburg Art Gallery Until 30 Mar Retrospective Exhibition -Thami Mnyele and Medu. King George Street, Joubert Park, Johannesburg T. 011 725 3180 Market Photo Workshop Extended until 11 Mar 09, Portfolio 08, Exhibition of student Photo journalism T. 011 834 1444 www.marketphotoworkshop.co.za Obert Contemporary at Melrosearch 12-31 Mar, Smokin Cheese, paintings by Vusi Beauchamp. 14 The High Street, Melrose Arch, T. 011 684 1214 www.obertcontemporary.com Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre 08 Mar - 05 Apr, Pieter Van der Westhuizen, exhibition of works. Cnr. Glenhove Rd & 4th Street Houghton, East of the M1. T. 011 728 8088 Rooke Gallery 05 Mar-01 May, The Travels of Bad, Major Solo Exhibition and publication by Zander Blom. By Appointment, The Newtown, 37 Quinn Street Newtown Johannesburg. T. 072 658 0762 www.rookegallery.co.za Sally Thompson Gallery 01-28 Mar, Anthology, A solo photographic exhibition by Lien Botha, 78 Third Avenue, Melville, T. 011 482 9719 www.thompsongallery.co.za Standard Bank Gallery Until 21 Mar, I like my neighbours, Oil Paintings, sketches and sculptures by Johannes Phokela, Misc. (recovery room), Drawings, notebooks, objects, photos and installation by David Andrew. Cnr. Simmonds & Frederick Streets, Johannesburg, 2001 Tel: 011 631 1889 www.standardbankgallery.co.za University of Johannesburg Arts Centre Gallery 10 Mar-15 Apr, Cities of the World, solo exibition of drawings by Titus Matiyane. University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Kingsway campus cor Kingsway and Universiteits Rd, Auckland Park Tel. (011) 559 2099/2556 Warren Siebrits Modern & Contemporary Art Until 06 Mar, Prints, Multiples and Photography VI; Joburg Art Fair, Works by Joachim Schonfeldt, Steven Cohen, Pieter Hugo, Willem Boshoff & Deborah Poynton 140 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, Tel. (011) 327 0000 www.warrensiebrits.co.za
Alette Wessels Kunskamer Exhibition of Old Masters and selected leading contemporary artists. Maroelana Centre, Maroelana. GPS : S25º 46.748 EO28º 15.615 T. 012 346 0728 C. 084 589 0711 www.artwessels.co.za
Alliance Francaise Port Elizabeth 07-23 Mar, From Paris to Port Elizabeth, Retrospective paintings bu Ruth Nesbit. 17 MacKay Street, Richmond Hill, T. 041 585 7889 www.alliance.org.za Centurion Art Gallery Art Gallery collection of works T. 012 358 3477, www.pretoriaartmuseum.co.za Fried Contemporary Art Gallery 07 Feb – 07 Mar Suburb: digital works, paintings, sculptures and functional objects,Frieda Sonnekus, Eric Suplan, Gordon Froud . 14 Mar-11 Apr, Heart, Lianna Loubser, Tshepo Setshwidi, Marli de Weerdt, Sybran Wiechers. 430 Charles Str, Brooklyn, Pretoria T. 012 346 0158 www.friedcontemporary.com Pretoria Art Museum PAM - North Gallery PAM - Henry Preiss Hall, until 19 Apr, Kilimanjaro in relation to global warming: origins of the Rift – ordered chaos to a disordered present PAM - Albert Werth Hall, until 19 Apr, Africa Rifting/ Bloodlines T.012 344 1807/8 firstname.lastname@example.org PAM - East Gallery, until 22 Jun, from the Museum’s Permanent Collection,Artists from Polly Street and Rorke’s Drift Pretoria Association of Arts Main Gallery, Until 18 Mar, Pretoria entries for the ABSA L’Atelier Competition. From 22 Mar - 09 Apr, St Sebastian. 20 Mar-09 Apr, Rina Stutzer. 173 Mackie Street, New Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng, 0181, Tel. (012) 346 3100 www.artsassociationpta.co.za St Lorient Fashion & Art Gallery Until 15 Mar, Reclaimimg the Urban Canvas, an Exhibition of Graffit art by various artists. 492 Fehrsen Str, Brooklyn Circle, Pretoria. T. 012 460 0284 www.stlorient.com UNISA Art Gallery Until 20 Mar, Masters Students’ Exhibition, Mixed Media Theo van Wijk Building, Goldfields entrance, 5th floor. Unisa Campus, Pretoria. T.012 429 6823 www.unisa.ac.za/gallery Alice Art Gallery Roodepoort Until 09 Mar, Solo exhibition Susan Greyling; 217 Drive Street, Helderkruin, Pretoria, T.011 958 1392 www.aliceart.co.za
Art Space - DBN 16-28 Mar, ABSA L’Atelier Art Competition, KZN Regional. 30 Mar-18 Apr, YEStoDAY, Sculpture by Gerald Baise in the Main Gallery. Shadow Dance, paintings by Greg Bauermeister in the Middle Gallery. 3 Millar Road, Durban. T.031 312 0793 www.artspacedurban.co.za Bank Gallery and Durban Art Gallery Imaging South Africa:Bank Gallery, Until 16 Apr, Records, An installation by Siemon Allen. Durban Art Gallery, 08 Mar- 26 Apr, Stamps & Newspapers, collection projects by Siemon Allen Bank Gallery, Morningside, Durban T. 031 312 6911, www.bankgallery.co.za Durban Art Gallery, Second Floor, City Hall, Smith Street, Durban T. 031 300 6238 Durban Art Gallery Until 17 May, Not Alone, an international project of Make Art-Stop Aids, curated by Carol Brown and David Gere. 11-27 Mar, In the light of play, contemporary women artists in South Africa, curated by Bisi Silva. Second Floor, City Hall, Anton Lembede Street, Durban T. 031 311 2268 Kizo Until 20 Mar, National Group Exhibition, Watercolour Society of South Africa. Shop G350 Palm Boulevard Gateway Theatre of Shopping Umhlanga T. 031 566 4322 www.kizo.co.za KZNSA Gallery Until Mar 08, SASOL Wax Art Award; 10-29 Mar, Durban University of Technology Staff Exhibition;Extended to 08 May, The Elephant, Sculpture by Andries Botha. 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, T. 031 2023686, www.kznsagallery.co.za The Lindsay Gallery 11-15 Mar, Creative wall hangings,paintings and sculpture by KZN artist Marjorie Jones. 289 Blackburn Road, Durban North, T. 031 5633961. Tatham Art Gallery Schreiner Gallery: From 12 Mar, Zotha
Shange, Rolling Ball Sculpture exhibition; Ceramics Room: Curriculum Curricula exhibition - Ceramics and Applied arts, exhibition extended. Cnr. Of Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Rd. and Church Street (Opposite City Hall) Pietermaritzburg. T. 033 342 1804 www.tatham.org.za
Northern Cape Kimberley William Humphreys Art Gallery Permanent Collection Exhibition - Includes works of a variety of contemporary SA artists Civic Centre, Cullinan Crescent, Kimberley, T. 053 831 1724, www.museumsnc.co.za
Western Cape Cape Town 34 Long 10 Mar - 11 April, Tears and Castles, mixed media, Motel 7, debut solo exhibition. 34 Long Street, Cape Town T. 021 426 4594, www.34long.com 3RD i Gallery 20 Mar-24 Apr, Liquid Swords: Slices of Lemon, Solo painting exhibition by Leon Botha. 95 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant. T. 021 425 2266 Art B Gallery 18 Mar-14 Apr, ABSA L’Atelier Regional Competition entries. Library Centre, Carel van Aswegen Street, Bellville T. 021 918 2301, www.artb.co.za Association for Visual Arts (AVA) Until 20 Mar, Main Gallery: A Patient Copy, solo multimedia exhibition by Lynne Lomofsky. The Long Gallery: Ubontsi: Sharp Sharp!,solo exhibition by Kemang Wa Lehulere. 23 Mar-03 Apr, Social Pattern, Fritha Langermann, Cobus van Bosch, Kim Lieberman amongst others, Curated by Kirsty Cockerill. 35 Church Street, Cape Town,T. 021 424 7436, www.ava.co.za Atlantic Art Gallery From 02 Mar, Paintings by Mark Midgely. 25 Wale Street Cape Town, T. 021 423 5775 Bell-Roberts Contemporary Art Gallery Until 11 Apr, Coming from Where I’m From, Paintings by Fahamu Pecou; New World Other, Paintings by Mxolisi Dolly Sapeta. 176 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, T. 021 465 9108 www.bell-roberts.com Blank Projects Until 24 Mar, Sometimes I forget that you exist, a collaborative research project curated by Trasi Henen, Francis Burger Sebastian Charilaou, Zipho Dayile, Anja de Klerk, Douglas Gimberg, Mendi Pantsi, Werner Ungerer,Ed Young. 198 Buitengracht Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, T.072 1989 221, www.blankprojects. blogspot.com Cape Gallery Until 14 Mar, Oil Paintings by Robert Koch & Martin Koch 15 Mar - 04 Apr, Shadow Boxes, an exhibition of new paintings, etchings and constructions by Judy Woodborne and ceramics by Wiebke von Bismarck. 60 Church Street, Cape Town, T. 021 423 5309 www.capegallery.co.za Curious, Whetstone & Frankley Until 21 Mar, A show of art by Patrick and Alex Latimer, creators of The Western Nostril. 87 Station Road, Observatory www.curiouswhetstoneandfrankley.com David Krut Publishing: Fine Art and Books Until 12 Mar, Print Run - selected David Krut Workshop editions 2008. Montebello, 31 Newlands Avenue, Cape Town T. 021 685 0676, www.davidkrutpublishing.com Erdmann Contemporary /Photographers Gallery 11 Mar-11 Apr, The World Needs Me, new paintings, sculpture and photography by Norman O’Flynn. 63 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town T. 021 422 2762 www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za Everard Read Gallery - Cape Town 19 Mar-01 Apr, Ed Hodgkinson. Portswood Rd, V&A Waterfront www.everard-read-capetown.co.za T. 021 418 4527 Exposure Gallery Until 21 Mar, Beneath the Surface, an underwater photographic exhibition featuring 9 local photographers.
The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock. T. 021 447 4124 www.exposuregallery.co.za Focus Contemporary, Fine Young Art 21-25 Mar, Cold Sweat, A solo show of new works by Christiaan Diedericks. 2 Long Street Cape Town, T. 021 419 8888, www.focuscontemporary.co.za Goodman Gallery, Cape Until 28 Mar, Review Revue, a selection of diverse works from 50 years of SA Art. 26 Mar-25 Apr, Nation State. 3rd Floor, Fairweather House, 176 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock, Cape Town T. 021 462 7573/4, www.goodmangallerycape.com Irma Stern Museum 04-28 Mar, New works by Alice Goldin Cecil Road, Rosebank, Cape Town T. 021 685 5686 www.irmastern.co.za Iziko South African National Gallery Until Jul 09, Scratches on the Face. Until 15 Mar 09, Voices of the Ancestors; Until 15 Mar, Wildlife photographer of the Year Exhibition, Until 22 Mar, Past/Present, Andrew Verster; Until 15 Mar, Intimate Distance, A multimedia offering from the Iziko collection. Government Avenue, Company’s Garden T. 021 467 4660, www.iziko.org.za João Ferreira Gallery 04-27 Mar, Morning Walking, new dawn, solo exhibition of new works by Eleonora Rossi. 70 Loop Street,Cape Town, T. 021 423 5403 www.joaoferreiragallery.com Kalk Bay Modern Until Mar 15, George Hallett’s ‘ A photographic journey’. 1st Floor, Olympia Buildings, 136 Main Road Kalk Bay. T.021 788 6571 email@example.com Lindy van Niekerk Art Gallery March Artsflash, exhibition of SA leading artists. 33 Chantecler Avenue, Eversdal,Durbanville, Tel. (021) 913 7204/5, www.artpro.co.za
Jarvis Road, De Waterkant, Cape Town. T. 021 421 3278 www.veo.co.za What if the World… Until 21 Mar, Kind Pockets, Richard Hart’s debut solo exhibition. 26 Mar - 25 Apr, Volume III, Large-scale paintings, editioned works and a limited edition publication, Avant Car Guard. First floor, 208 Albert Road Woodstock T. 021 448 1438 www.whatiftheworld.com
Gallery Grande Provence 08 Mar-08 Apr,Louis Van Heerden. Main Road Franschoek, T. 021 876 8600 www.grandeprovence.co.za Galerie L’ Art Experience South African Old Masters and Contemporary Art, works by Aviva Maree, Kaffie Pretorius, Robert Slingsby and others. Shop no 3, The Ivy, Krugerstreet, T. 021 876 2497 www.galart.co.za
Knysna Knysna Art Gallery 23 Mar - 17 Apr, The Knysna River Red Bridge Exhibition, oils, watercolours & mixed media, solo exhibition by Sally Bekker. The Old Gaol, Cnr. Queen & Main Str.’s, Knysna, 6570,T. 044 382 7124 www.knysnafinearts.co.za
George Strydom Gallery For March - 40th Annual Summer Exhibition, Selected artwork from established SA Artists Tel. (044) 874 4027,Marklaan Centre, 79 Market Street, George www.artaffair.co.za
Dorp Straat Gallery Until 16 Jan, Christmas Group Exhibition, Curated by Mike Donkin 144 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 2256 www.dorpstraatgalerie.co.za
Kunst House Until 16 Mar, Abstract Constellations, by various artists. 18 Mar-18 Apr, Edges - an exploration of meeting points, works by Fiona Ewan Rowett. 62 Kloof Street, Gardens, T. 021 422 1255 www.kunsthouse.co.za
Red Black and White Until Until 07 Mar,Exploring lines,Strijdom van der Merwe 14 Mar-09 Apr, Half-Mens/Heel-Mens, Shany Van Den Berg 5a Distillery Road, Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch. T. 021 886 6281 www.redblackandwhite.co.za
Michael Stevenson Contemporary Until 09 Apr, In Boksburg, David Goldblatt; Recent Prints by Claudette Schreuders. Ground Floor, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Cape Town, T. 021 462 1500 www.michaelstevenson.com
Sasol Art Museum Until 29 Mar,Retrospective Exhibition, Judith Mason. 05-28 Mar, Willie Bester, Solo Exhibition. 52 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch. T. 021 808 3695 www.sun.ac.za/museum
Muti Gallery Until 15 Mar, Supermarket, sculptures, paintings, etchings and photography, by emerging and established artists from South Africa and Brazil. 3 Vredehoek Avenue, Oranjezicht, T. 021 465 3551 firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Stellenbosch Art Gallery 07-14 Mar, (Subtext),Gesprek (conversation) Group Exhib,itions, Kayamandi Community exhibition,- all part of the Stellenbosch Woordfees. 24 Mar-16 Apr, works from the film Agenda, by Marinda Du Toit. Stellenbosch University, cnr of Bird and Dorp Streets, Stellenbosch T. 021 808 3489 www.sun.ac.za/artgallery
Sanlam Art Gallery Until 12 Mar, Decade Highlights from 10 years of collecting the Sanlam Art Collection, at the iArt Gallery, 71 Loop Street Cape Town www.iart.co.za, T. 021 424 5150 www.sanlam.co.za South Gallery showcasing creativity from Kwazulu-Natal; For March, Human Elephant foundation Fairweather House, 176 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock, Ground Floor. T. 021 465 4672 email@example.com These Four Walls Fine Art Galley Until 14 Mar, Surfacing: The Shape of Light, Paintings by Angela Briggs with prints by Sarah Pratt. 169 Lower Main Road, Observatory, T. 021 447 7393. Urban Contemporary Art Until 28 Mar, Solum, Paintings by Vernon Williams, Mel Williamson, Cha Davenport, Liza Grobler and Maricel Albertyn. 46 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town T. 021 447 4132, www.urbancontemporaryart.co.za The South African Print Gallery Until 26 Mar, Printing Money, A selection of young contemporary printmakers. 107 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, T. 021 462 6851 www.printgallery.co.za VEO Gallery From 17 Mar, Lost Vegas, An exhibition of sketches by Riaan Van Zyl.
SMAC Art Gallery Until 15 Mar, Strange Enchantments, Claude Bouscharain Retrospective. 17 Mar-10 May, Locations, works by Jonathan Guaitamacchi; 17 Mar-10 May, echoes, paintings by Jake Aikman. De Wet Centre, Church Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 3607 www.smacgallery.com Stellenbosch Art Gallery Permanent exhibition of Conrad Theys, John Kramer, Gregoire Boonzaier, Adriaan Boshoff and other artists. 34 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch T. 021-8878343 www.stellenboschartgallery.co.za
Hermanus Abalone Gallery Until 06 Apr, Works by Walter Battis, Joan Clare, Christo Coetsee, Hannes Harrs, Elzaby Laubscher, Cecil Skotnes, Pippa Skotnes, Fred Schimmel, Edoardo Villa. 2 Harbour Rd, The Courtyard, Hermanus. T. 028 313 2935 www.abalonegallery.co.za Stanford Galleries 11-13 Queen Victoria Street Stanford Tel: 028 341 0591 www.stanfordgallery.co.za
Changing spaces Who’s new on the arts block After working as a lecturer in painting, drawing and art history at Wits, he curated various successful shows, and a book of photographs from the exhibition The Indian in Drum Magazine in the 1950s was published by BellRoberts Publishing late last year. Contacted for comment, Naidoo said he was “uncomfortable” answering questions “at this point” as he felt it was “too early” to say anything about his new appoint-
ment. He said he was only taking up office at the SANG in May and had not finished off at his current position on the South Africa/Mali project. He said he had not yet seen the SANG budget or examined any figures so could not say in what direction he might take the gallery in the future, but would be happy to be interviewed at a later stage.
Ester le Roux : Oliwnhuis Art Museum Caitlin Ross The Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein, a satellite of the National Museum, welcomes Ester le Roux as its new curator. Le Roux has been affiliated with the museum since July 2005, in the role of Education Officer, and her new appointment as curator is sure to place an emphasis on the educational aspect of the institution as she brings with her several years’ worth of teaching experience (Art and Design at the Central University of Technology) and believes in the value of art education as a tool to develop individuals and communities. Her passion for art is focused
primarily in contemporary South African work – a leaning that will no doubt prove a perfect balance to complement the gallery’s historical and heritage-based essence. “I’m very excited and looking forward to the challenges,” she said. She aims to maintain the museum’s reputation as one of the best in the country and her goal for the immediate future is to increase the number of visitors to the museum, encouraging the general public in Bloemfontein to “support and take pride in this excellent institution”. Le Roux takes over from Sharon Crampton. “I would like to continue the good job Sharon has done, and build forth on that.”
Phillippa Duncan : Stephan Weltz & Co. in Association with Sotheby’s Caitlin Ross
Antoinette Murdoch : JAG Michael Coulson The day after her appointment as chief curator of Johannesburg Art Gallery, in succession to Clive Kellner, was announced, Antoinette Murdoch is still breathless at the prospect and trying to get used to the idea. “It’s more than I could ever have dreamt of. It’s an amazing museum. I used to go there as a student, and even before that, and just stare in wonder at the marvellous work on the walls.” When I point out that most of the work she looked at 15 years ago is no longer on the walls but buried in store rooms, so does this mean a switch away from recent policy, she temporises. “I’ve not given much thought to the African/traditional balance. I’m passionate about contemporary art, but I’d like to see some of the traditional [European] work again. When I was a child, it was the technique of the traditional artists that simply mesmerised me.”
Riason Naidoo : Art Collections Iziko Caitlin Ross Riason Naidoo is to be the new Director of Art Collections at Iziko, replacing Marilyn Martins who retired in August last year. His portfolio includes responsibility for the art collections at Iziko South African National Gallery and the Old Town House. In his late thirties, his CV spans numerous countries and includes management of the South Africa/Mali project for the Presidency and the national Department of Arts & Culture (culminating in the ceremonial opening of the Ahmed Baba
Library in Timbuktu in January this year), as well as curatorship of the photographic exhibition The Indian in Drum magazine in the 1950s. Hailing from Chatsworth, Durban, Naidoo completed his Fine Arts degree at Wits in 1995, whereafter he joined the Durban Art Gallery as education officer for three years. He showed his paintings at a solo exhibition at the NSA Gallery in 1997, and while continuing to work in painting and new media also found the time to complete an MA in Fine Arts.
No doubt it’s unfair to try and pin her down on specifics before she’s even taken office (which happens on April 1). But on one thing she’s determined. “I insist that I’m not a feminist and I accept that there’ll be restrictions on what we can show. But just as we’ve tried to correct past injustices at the Art Bank [where she’s been CEO for the past two years], there are still big gaps. “In particular, I’d like to focus on women and what they make. And I do mean art, not crafts, though that can’t be excluded.” Apart from the Art Bank (which employs just three people), she also managed the tiny gallery at
the Civic Theatre a decade ago. But she seems unfazed at the challenge of taking on an institution the size of JAG – not least its funding problems. “It’s scary, but I’ve done it all on a smaller scale. I’ll just have to tackle it head on with the passion [that word again!] I devote to everything I do.” And she’s adamant that running JAG won’t stifle her own much admired artistic career. She’s participated in many exhibitions and is a regular entrant in the Absa L’Atelier awards. “If I managed to run the Art Bank, support two [sub-teen] children [she’s ‘happily divorced’ from their father, artist Alex Trapani] and do a master’s degree, I think I can keep creating art when I’m at JAG.
Michaelis graduate Phillippa Duncan is the newly appointed shared-head of Stephan Welz & Co auctioneers. Having worked at the company since 2007, Duncan has segued into the new position, which “is more of an expansion of the position I have held as South African Paintings Specialist within the company,” said Duncan. Having been a part-time lecturer at the Ruth Prowse art school and the former Cape Tech, she knows what she’s looking at when it comes to art. And since joining Welz, she says, she “hasn’t looked back”. She says her job at the auction house keeps her on her toes as it’s a balancing act of “juggling deadlines and clever time management”. She says given the present economic downturn the auction buyers market “seems more cautious”, but
there are still buyers willing to pay top prices. The recent sale of Erik Laubscher’s ‘Still Life with Mandolin, Music Score and Fruit’, for instance, set a new South African record for living artist, having sold for R1.14 million. She said this is due to a continued “desire to acquire and own items that rarely become available”. Duncan and Shona Robie, whom she met at university, and with whom she shares the position, have divided the auction house responsibilities, with Duncan handling PR and advertising as well as continuing her position as Paintings Specialist, and Robie taking charge of office management and continuing her role as head of the ceramics department. Yet despite the demands of the job, Duncan continues to produce her own art work and plans to have a solo show towards the end of the year.
“I’ll never stop making art. That happens after the children go to bed, between nine and three am,” conceding that she’s one of those people that “don’t sleep a lot.” And just in case her various art activities don’t fill 24 hours a day, other hobbies include gym and running. In her CV, which accompanied her application for the job, she claims “I have the ability to manage people and delegate tasks. I believe that I am the perfect candidate for this job! “I am enthusiastic and extremely organised, with a firm belief in effective processes to achieve results. I am the most efficient person I know. If you want something done right, on time and with style, give it to me!” At JAG, she’ll certainly have the opportunity to prove that those are no idle boasts.
Robin Rhode joins the greats with Ad Renowned for interacting with twodimensional drawings to create his own unique brand of ‘performance art’, South Africa’s answer to Banksy, Robin Rhode, is now painting with cars. Expensive cars. Like the new BMW Z series.
In collaborating with BMW, Rhode joins a long list of famous artists, including Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein. See page 12 for more details.
Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s Decorative and Fine Art auction in Cape Town last month was far the best of the recent season in both volume and prices. In the major section devoted to SA art, 78% of 104 lots sold; an R8.47m gross was well ahead of the minimum estimate of R6.97m. In the absence of major Irma Sterns, other artists set auction records. Top price was a record R1.14m for an Erik Laubscher Still Life (estimate R200 000-R300 000). Other records were set by Cecil Skotnes’ wood panel “Birds” (R616 000, est R350 000-R450 000) and a Van Essche genre scene (R728 000, est R275 000-R320 000). The artist’s “In The Twilight” fetched R616 000 (est R200 000-R300 000). William Kentridge did well, two drawings going for R537 600 (est R350 000-R450 000) and R268 800 (est R150 000-R200 000). Maggie Laubser’s Barge on Canal reached R358 400 (est R180 000R240 000) and two minor Pierneef landscapes went for R313 600 each (est R250 000-R350 000 and R200 000-R300 000), one being a casein work on paper.
Cecil Skotnes’ wood panel Birds fetched R616 000 (est R350 000-R450 000)
Michael Coulson looks at the latest South African Auction Houses results The earlier session of 82 minor works was 85% sold and grossed almost R850 000, against the low estimate of R607 000. Features were R56 000 for a Tretchikoff portrait drawing (est R7 000-R10 000) and R44 800 for a Kenneth Baker landscape (est R16 000-R20 000). This was a big improvement on the firm’s November sale in Johannesburg in November, when a gross of almost R11m over three sessions fell short of the minimum estimate of R15.6m, and about 47% of lots sold. Among early casualties were a Pierneef Bushveld landscape, estimated at R1.2m-R1.6m. Of the six lots with the highest estimates in the second session, four didn’t sell: a Willie Bester sculpture, two Kentridge graphics and a set of five lithographs by Marlene Dumas. Another Kentridge graphic, Sleeper & Ubu, fetched the top price in this section, at R145 600 (estimate: R120 000-R160 000), followed by Robert Hodgins’ oil, Clubmen of America, at R95 200, well below the estimate of R100 000-R150 000. The third and final session contained all the major works: 57 of 116 lots were sold, for R8.3m,
against the R10.5m estimate. Top price was R896 000 for an Adriaan Boshoff oil, August Winds (est R800 000-R1.2m). However, four other Boshoffs, with estimates ranging from R180 000 minimum to R800 000 maximum, failed to sell. Just one of three Maggie Laubser’s sold, an atypical Rural scene, for R560 000 (est: R300 000-R500 000). Of other popular artists, an Alexis Preller painting on fibreglass, Angel King, was bid up to R336 000 (est R250 000-R300 000). George Pemba’s Initiation Ceremony went for R157 000 (est R150 000-R200 000). Gerald Sekoto’s Walking Down the Road (1961) just made the R300 000-R500 000 estimate, at R302 000, but his Water Carriers did much better, at R157 000 (est R100 000-R150 000). Two works by Ephraim Ngatane, both estimated at R300 000-R500 000, went for R302 000 and R538 000. Tretchikoff’s Proteas in a Silver Vase reached R224 000 (est: R200 000-R300 000), though his Arum Lilies (est: R150 000-R200 000) was passed. Bonham’s auction in London
last month gave much cause for thought. Especially to “investors” in Irma Stern: no less than 20 of the 27 Sterns offered didn’t sell, including the five with the highest estimates. These comprised three still lifes, with estimates of GBP100 000GBP150 000 and (twice) GBP150 000-GBP200 000, plus Malay Girl (GBP70 000-GBP90 000) and Gathering Firewood (GBP125 000-GBP175 000). Many of these works are indeed reoffers from previous sales. This left the way open for Maggie Laubser to head the value list, her Indian Girl with Poinsettias reaching GBP276 000, against the estimate of GBP100 000-GBP150 000. The main section of Bonham’s sale saw 68 of 135 lots sell, as near as doesn’t matter to 50%. The gross was about GP1.5m, against the low estimate of GBP2.4m. Of other leading artists, eight of 12 Sekotos sold, five of eight Van Essches, five of seven Gregoire Boonzaaiers and three of four Pierneeefs; but only two of seven Prellers, three of eight Francois
Kriges and none of the three Tretchikoffs Only one other work topped GBP100 000: GBP132 000 for Preller’s Still Life with Crocodile (estimate GBP40 000-GBP60 000). But there were a few notable and record prices. Like GBP52 800 for Anton Van Wouw’s bronze Shangaan, estimated at only GBP7 000-GBP10 000, and GBP60 000 for a Battiss semiabstract (GBP12 000-GBP18 000). The only other works to top GBP40 000 were a Hugo Naude landscape (GBP40 800, est GBP35 000-GBP55 00), a Sekoto interior scene (GBP48 000, est GBP40 000-GBP46 000), and two Pierneefs: Golden Gate (GBP72 000, est GBP60 000-GBP90 000) and Acacia Trees (GBP43 200, est GBP40 000-GBP60 000). At Bonham’s sale of minor works the previous day, 88 of 147 lots sold for a gross of GBP1.45m, against the low estimate of GBP1.7m. Top price of GBP9 000 was shared by William Syme’s 19th-century view of Table Bay (est GBP1 000-GBP1 500) and a J K Moehl At Johannesburg Station (est GBP2 000-GBP3 000), closely
followed by a Terrence McCaw view of Hout Bay (GBP7 800, est GBP3 000-GBP5 000). This was, however, a much better result than Christie’s sale of Australian and SA art in December, which was 60% unsold. Only seven of the 16 SA works sold, grossing GBP392 000 against a low estimate of GBP827 000, the only notable price being GBP301 250 for an Irma Stern portrait (est GBP250 000-GBP300 000). Neither Pierneef, only one of three Francois Kriges and one of five Dylan Lewises sold.
All prices quoted above include the buyer’s premium, of 12%-20%. The next couple of months will see the first sale by the new auction house, Strauss & Co, plus a Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s sale in Johannesburg and Graham Britz’s disposal of the late Brett Kebble’s collection. These will test whether the Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s Cape sale marks a genuine market recovery, or was just a flash in the pan.
Photo: Victor Dlamini
In conversation with Monna Mokoena Michael Coulson chats with Monna Mokoena of the famous Momo Art Gallery, Johannesburg People are drawn to become gallerists in many strange ways. For Monna Mokoena, proprietor of Momo gallery in Johannesburg’s Parktown North, the early inspiration was the glamorous locations of the fashion shoots and the articles on art in the fashion magazines bought by his father, an itinerant seller of clothing on the mines. However, it wasn’t a straight line from there – it seldom is. After matriculating, he wanted to become a lawyer specialising in musicians’ rights. There was no such specialist course available, so after doing a BJuris at Fort Hare, rather than join a general legal partnership he went into a successful partnership selling air time for cell phones. That collapsed while he was away on a prolonged overseas trip. On his return he sat down to make the
hard decision on what he really wanted to be, and that proved to be the crucial moment. He’d often visited the Everard Read Gallery, which he considered a great institution in a great space. He persuaded Mark Read to take him on, in effect as an unpaid intern, and spent two years there. “It was the best education in the world. I hold the people there, but especially Mark, in the highest regard. No just for the quality of the business, but also for the gallery’s business ethic. I tried to model myself on how I saw Mark engaging with clients. They also educated me in the history of art.” After those two years it was time to move on, and Mokoena set up as a private and corporate art consultant. But he found that the first question a consultant is asked is, “Do you have a gallery?” So this
led to the idea of establishing a space, and in 2003 Momo opened its doors. Every gallery has to establish its niche, and Mokoena’s USP was to concentrate on contemporary art. He felt that no other gallery was doing this; even the Goodman was then only handling established artists (black and white), though it has become more adventurous. Mokoena is often seen as the purveyor of art to the black diamonds, but he stresses that his gallery does not specifically handle black artists. Indeed, he wouldn’t want to be labeled like that. But it’s inevitable that the demographics of contemporary art should correspond ever more closely to those of the population at large. And Mokoena concedes that, whatever hangs on his gallery’s walls, much of his business still
consists of dealing in the SA “masters”. He’s still active as a consultant. At various times he’s advised the likes of the JSE, Nedcor, Vodacom, the IDC, Allan Gray and the Gauteng legislature; however much such bodies want to be seen to encourage new artists, they can’t ignore the established names. And Mokoena the consultant has to wear a different hat from Mokoena the gallerist. A corporate collection has to have a policy and identity that may not be the same as the gallery’s. You must resist the urge to favour your own artists and be true to the cause of building the collection, regardless of where you source works. Though he’s reluctant to give away trade secrets, Mokoena is confident that he’s built up a successful business with its own individual
way of working that doesn’t just replicate what his competitors are doing. That it’s a risky business, especially when he started, he doesn’t deny. All the more so, perhaps, in that he has no institutional backing or wealthy individual behind him. He may take all he profits, but he also bears any losses in full. He’s had approaches from potential investors, but so far that’s the way he wants it. “Of course, there may come a time when I want to cash in my chips.” And he reckons the formula works. On the one side, young artists approach him for shows. On the other, his approach is becoming more global: he brings foreign artists, often one with African links, to SA. “That’s the next wave: art must be a two-way street,” he says, and hints that his ultimate
dream is to have a string of galleries – or associates – elsewhere in the continent. But that may be some way away. He has no doubt that the art market, though holding up reasonably well, is suffering from the world economic crisis, and fears that the next six months will see casualties among some of the newer, less solidly established, local galleries. But Momo, he says, is fortunate in that it has already built an international image. It’s acting as curator for Culture France and its IFAS associate at the upcoming Johannesburg Art Fair, and also at Photo Beijing 2009, in China. “For us,” he says firmly, “there’ll be no change in focus. The only change will be expansion.”
The Snow Goose 2009, Record Print, Image Diameter: 243mm, Paper: 500 x 350mm
Niklas Wittenberg The South African Print Gallery
(Part of the new Artstrip) 107 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. Tel. 021 462 6851. www.printgallery.co.za