Air­time up for­grabs

Cut­ting-edge and im­pres­sive items on view at fair

Sowetan - - Front Page - By Pa­tience Bam­balele

This past week­end had all kinds of tal­ented artists from 12 coun­tries ex­hibit­ing their cut­ting-edge works at the FNB Art Fair in Sand­ton.

It was a per­fect time for col­lec­tors and art en­thu­si­asts to feast on the best con­tem­po­rary art on of­fer.

This year’s work in­cluded mul­ti­me­dia, sculp­tures, pho­tog­ra­phy, por­traits, video art, paint­ing, print-mak­ing and more.

The art­works were of high qual­ity and tack­led var­i­ous sub­jects, such as sex­u­al­ity, re­li­gion, eco­nomic strat­i­fi­ca­tion, poverty, slav­ery and vi­o­lence.

Though pieces were not as many as in pre­vi­ous years, those on dis­play com­pen­sated with high lev­els of cre­ativ­ity and bold state­ments.

Even bet­ter, this time around more fe­male artists had a chance to shine in solo ex­hi­bi­tions. These in­cluded Sethem­bile Msezane, Lady Skol­lie, Then­jiwe Niki Nkosi, and Bron­wyn Katz.

There were in­ter­est­ing finds like Mary Sibande, who pre­sented stun­ning work Wield­ing the Col­li­sion of Past, Present and Fu­ture (2017).

For years, Sibande has been chal­leng­ing the stereo­types and de­pic­tions of black women in so­ci­ety. She’s bet­ter known for us­ing a sculp­tural al­ter ego named So­phie, a do­mes­tic worker, to dis­cuss the themes of gen­der, race and class in a post-colo­nial South African con­text.

Mean­while, an­other artist who could not be missed was Bless­ing Ngob­eni. His works, re­sem­bling Pi­casso’s, were given a wider space to ad­e­quately show off Ngob­eni’s artis­tic skills.

He pro­duced a se­ries of large-scale painted col­lage works, a fig­u­ra­tive metal sculp­ture, an an­i­ma­tion in which his fig­ures are brought to life by his per­for­mance.

He said in a state­ment: “I wanted to get un­der the body, un­der the black body, and try to find what makes us hu­man. Be­cause when I look around, I don’t see it.

“I see peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be hu­man but serv­ing only them­selves … When we eat a chicken, we get right down to the bone, we suck at the mar­row … I wanted to do that – to suck at the mar­row, draw out the hu­man.”

If that was just too deep, then An­golan pho­tog­ra­pher and film­maker An­to­nio Ole pro­vided more com­fort­able mo­ments with his ex­cit­ing works as part of his ret­ro­spec­tive ex­hi­bi­tion.

Born in Luanda, An­gola, in 1951, he pre­sented black-and­white por­traits to mark 50 years look­ing at life through the lens.

Ole proved to be a ver­sa­tile artist, as his pho­tog­ra­phy, films and mul­ti­me­dia works re­veal a cer­tain for­mal and aes­thetic eclec­ti­cism. The el­e­ments in his work evoke not only the colo­nial pe­riod, but slav­ery, war, de­struc­tion, and poverty, as well as the abil­ity to re­sist and sur­vive.

Con­cep­tual artist Meschac Gaba, from Benin, ex­plored themes of glob­al­i­sa­tion and econ­omy through the piece Bank or Econ­omy: In­fla­tion.

Gaba pre­sented this piece that re­sem­bled a mar­ket stall stocked with to­kens of sym­bolic value plus a fourth in­stal­la­tion also re­lated to trade and ex­change.

Us­ing found ma­te­ri­als like Zim­bab­wean bank notes, coins and semi-pre­cious stones, Gaba cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment that plays with the per­cep­tions of value in­her­ent to con­ven­tional be­lief sys­tems of cul­tural and eco­nomic ex­change.

An­to­nio Ole shone in black and white.

Bless­ing Ngob­eni’s ex­hi­bi­tion ques­tions hu­man­ity and its mean­ing.

Zim dol­lars form part of Meschac Gaba’s art on trade.

One of the art­works by Then­jiwe Niki Nkosi.

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