Art works like a charm at new museum
● Forget a jet or a private island — these days the ultimate sign of success is a museum bearing your name.
And so last Friday evening found me joining Cape Town’s glitterati for the preview garden party of property magnate Louis Norval’s shiny new centre for art, which includes a research library, restaurant and sculpture garden.
This comes on the heels of that other citadel to contemporary African art, Zeitz MOCAA, but while German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz’s collection is housed in a repurposed silo, in this case the acquisitions are displayed not only in a building with a wing-like roof, but also in a garden set in a rehabilitated wetland.
With a choir welcoming us as we arrive, I head inside the venue in Steenberg, half an hour outside the city, where I am greeted by Elana Brundyn, director of the Norval Foundation.
She whisks me through a stirring immersive installation by Serge Alain Nitegeka before we make our way to the terrace and I walk through the garden, peppered with striking pieces like Victor Ehikhamenor’s enamel paint and steel work Isimagado (The Unknowable).
On a bridge near her installation I meet statuesque artist Nandipha Mntambo, who has just brought out a scent with perfumer Tammy Frazer intriguingly called Dissonance.
Nearby is another artist, Brett Murray, and we chat, not about his controversial The Spear work but the popularity of his light fittings, which he created back when he was “a struggling artist who needed to make a living”.
Someone with more recent money worries is Caro Wiese, wife of retail mogul Christo whose Steinhoff misfortune has shrunk his fortune by about 80%.
Is there still money for art, I ask the art collector.
“There always is,” she smiles. “And even if you can’t buy it, art still remains so enriching.”
The night is filled with performances to complement the art, but it is the food that thrills my senses. My favourite was the quail eggs in kataifi nests with kimchi dust, hung from a tree inside the Skotnes restaurant.
The sculpture garden proved to be a hit with guests at the Norval Foundation opening party in Steenberg, Cape Town. This striking piece is by Victor Ehikhamenor.
Left, Francois Pienaar and his wife, Nerine Winter, with Louis Norval. Right, artists Brett Murray and Nandipha Mntambo at the opening.
Members of the Indoni Dance, Arts & Leadership Academy perform in the sculpture garden, in front of a Brett Murray bronze called ‘ Again, Again’.
Errol Arendz and Caro Wiese.