Cape Town - Search beneath/at the end of the rainbow
African artworks are in great demand on the international market, and today, more and more of them are coming from Cape Town. The metropolis on the Cape of Good Hope has long since produced not just colorfully decorative ethnic stereotypes but also many works in which the country’s struggle to find a new identity is clearly visible. South African gallery owners and artists let us in on the trendy places to see and be seen.
Cape Town – the stuff of Sunday painters’ dreams. A turquoise ocean at the foot of Table Mountain, shimmering velvet beaches, the Cape of Good Hope in the early morning light. Boundless beauty and harmony with a dash of colorful African culture.
The city’s many galleries reflect precisely this mix. Joyous, exotic, decorative Ethno-style African art is popular, especially with tourists – the rainbow nation on canvas, a dancing water bearer, maybe a wild lion thrown in for good measure. But the real world of African art looks very different.
“There are far too many pretty pictures here,” says Dathini Mzayiya. The young painter is sitting amid the tidy chaos of his studio in Cape Town. The floorboards are spattered with paint; gloomy colors and strong brushstrokes dominate his canvasses.
Association for Visual Arts and Blank Projects
The Association for Visual Arts offers mainly young South African artists a good platform for their work. Collectors know this and can, with a little luck, acquire for a very affordable price, works that may one day command high prices on the world market.
Association for Visual Arts: 35 Church Street, Tel. +27-21/424 74 36. Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, LM 10am-1pm. www.ava.co.za
If she discovers you, you stand a good chance of making it big on the art market:
Kirsty Cockerill, boss of the Association for Visual Arts (AVA), is constantly looking for new, still relatively unknown artists. here, she is standing inside the Flock installation, a mobile by artist Barbara Wildenboer, whose works were shown at AVA as part of a group exhibition. Since then, Wildenboer’s works have already been on show in a number of solo exhibitions.
Barbara Wildenboer: www.barbarawildenboer.yolasite.com
Window on art::
Painter and sculptor Jonathan Garnham spent several years studying and working in Berlin. After returning to Cape Town, he set up the Blank Projects gallery, which provides a platform for more controversial artists.
Blank Projects: 198 Buitengracht Street, Tel. +27-72/198 92 21. Open: Tue-Fri 10:30am-4pm, Sat 10:30am-1pm. www.blankprojects.com
Stevenson Gallery, Erdmann Contemporary and What if the World
“For us, the future lies in Africa,” says Sophie Perryer, curator of the Stevenson Gallery, which usually spotlights first-rate works, like those of photographer Pieter Huge, who is currently causing a sensation all around the world.
Stevenson Gallery: Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Building, Tel. +27-21/462 15 00. Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am-1pm. www.stevenson.info
With her two galleries, Namibian-born Heidi Erdmann occasionally offers the people of Cape Town the most exciting exhibitions in town. Her Photographers Gallery ZA picks up on the new trends in contemporary South African photography; Erdmann Contemporary is devoted to comic art.
Erdmann Contemporary & Photographers Gallery ZA: 63 Shortmarket Street, Tel.
+27-21/422 27 62. Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-2pm. www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za und www.photographersgalleryza.co.za
What if the World:
Bold, quirky, decorative – this seems to be the motto at this upcoming gallery. Yuppie art, ideal for everyone keen to stray from the beaten art track in downtown Cape Town.
´What if the World: 1 Argyle Street, Woodstock, Tel. +27-21/448 14 38. Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-2pm. www.whatiftheworld.com
Photos: Christoph Goedan (6), PR