Review: Cape Town Art Fair

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CT Art FairThe Cape Town Art Fair is an opportunity for art lovers to enjoy a visual feast of the cream of contemporary art as showcased by the major galleries in Cape Town.

Building on the success of the inaugural event last year, the 2014 event has gained gravitas with the inclusion of a trinity of heavyweight galleries: Everard Read, Stevenson and Goodman Gallery, and of course the display of Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl’ and Irma Stern’s ‘Two Arabs’ – the latter renowned as the painting by a South African artist to have fetched the highest price ever at auction (about R 30 million).

The Cape Town Art Fair is a unique opportunity to view, in one dedicated space, the very finest art available to buy in Cape Town. Mostly the best of local contemporary art, there are also some international pieces such as the Andrew Salgado portraits shown by Christopher Moller Art.  Master painters such as Walter Battiss, Robert Hodgens and William Kentridge hang alongside up and coming art stars.  For collectors, it is the most convenient way of seeing such a vast array of talent in one place and for anyone interested in art it is quite simply a superb exhibition.

The BMW pavilion is a beautiful, fluid space – light pours in and the curved walls flow from one gallery space to another. It is possible at once to stand and view a vast collection of carefully curated work in all directions.

The diversity on display is astounding. From hip-hop inspired street art paintings by Mr Brainwash (with a price tag of around one million rand at 34Fine Art) to Caryn Scrimgeour’s fascinating large-scale tromp l’oeil paintings of tabletops at Everard Read.

On arrival, it is easy to feel intimidated with all the wealth on display. The air feels rarified, the tones are hushed, the dress is formal and the champagne flows. Art collecting is largely the preserve of a handful of the population and can smack of pretension. Here however, the majority of the gallery owners and their teams are welcoming and happy to discuss a particular artist or piece in depth. This is a great opportunity to converse and engage and of course discover the Next Big Thing. All galleries seem to have an artist who is going to be “HUGE” and the time to invest is most certainly “NOW!”

The Cape Town Art Fair is also hosting an interesting programme of events in addition to the gallery displays, including works by invited artists Josh Ginsberg and Lyndi Sales, screenings at the IMAX cinema by some of South Africa’s most innovative multimedia artists, and panel discussions with key figures in the South African art world.  There is also the Maboneng Project through which visitors can take a shuttle bus to Langa to view artworks on display in various township homes.

Cape Town is presently the reigning centre of global art, not least having been crowned the World Design Capital for 2014.  One leaves the Cape Town Art Fair feeling that South Africa has every right to bask in the spotlight currently shining on our shores.

Samantha Reynolds

Cape Town Art Fair 2014 runs at The Pavilion at the Waterfront 28 February to 2 March 2014.

Samantha Reynolds is a freelance writer and photographer focusing on art and travel. More of her work can be found at goldendreams.me.

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