Running alongside the CTAF, two prominent SA auction houses, Strauss & Co and Aspire Art, are both holding auctions with an emphasis on contemporary art from Africa.
1. Teresa Kutala Firmino
Look out for new talent in the CTAF Solo Section. A highlight promises to be Teresa Kutala Firmino’s Black Melancholy / Negotiating Trauma, presented by Everard Read Gallery. Firmino’s instantly recognisable collages of colourful, box-like stages are populated with images from magazines, newspapers, historical documents, and social media, which she places to re-enact stories she has collected from her home town, Pomfret, in the North West. This is where many former 32 Battalion soldiers and their families settled after the end of the South African Border War. She uses the somewhat surreal scenes in these tightly confined interiors to explore collective trauma while creating alternative past, present, and future narratives of Africa, thus rebuilding her own archive of African history.
2. Stellenbosch Triennale
The inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale coincides with the CTAF, but started on 11 February and runs until the end of April in various locations across Stellenbosch. The Triennale is run by the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust (SOST), which has organised annual public art exhibitions in Stellenbosch for the past eight years, seeing the potential of art events and platforms in small towns to have powerful impacts. The idea is to take public art in Stellenbosch to the next level, riding the wave of contemporary African art’s international appeal and providing a snapshot of contemporary creativity. The Triennale also aims to harness the power of art to act as a kind of stimulus for transformation, bringing people together and engaging meaningfully with a divided past, the collective present, and imagined futures. There’s a programme of multidisciplinary art installations, music, film, talks, performances, and even a pavilion by the force behind Pretoria’s design biennale, Pieter Mathews.
3. Strauss & Co
Strauss & Co will hold its third sale dedicated to contemporary art coinciding with the fair.
Highlights include works by the likes of Nicholas Hlobo, Athi-Patra Ruga, Simphiwe Ndzube, Mohau Modisakeng, Zanele Muholi, Mary Sibande, William Kentridge and more, as well as pan-African works from a South African collector. Not to be missed is Strauss & Co’s Wilhelm van Rensburg’s talk on contemporary African art — an excellent introduction to the field and an invaluable foundation from which to begin to understand the remarkable works not only at the auction, but the CTAF in general.
• The talk takes place on 14 February at 10.30am at Quay 7, 11 East Pier Road, V&A Waterfront.
4. Aspire Art
Partnering for the first time with French auction house Piasa, Aspire Art also presents an auction focused on artwork from across Africa. Highlights include an outstanding early work by internationally acclaimed painter Marlene Dumas leading a sale, with an emphasis on some of South Africa’s most renowned women artists, including Lisa Brice, Mary Sibande, Georgina Gratrix, and Frances Goodman. The likes of Sue Williamson, Helen Sebidi, Judith Mason, and Esther Mahlangu also feature prominently. Grounding the collection are an exceptional still-life painting by Irma Stern from 1954 and two graceful bird studies — one by expressionist painter Maggie Laubser and one by Cecily Sash, a founding member of the Amadlozi Group.
• Aspire X Piasa auction takes place on 14 February at 3pm at OroAfrica House,170 Buitengracht Street,Cape Town.