Fine art has always been an investment that guarantees a return. This is a truism that has stood the test of time despite increasing global investment uncertainty. As our local arts and culture scene takes a battering due to Covid-19, there has never been a better time to invest in and support SA art and artists.
This monthly column will guide you in choosing pieces that will not only show a return on investment*, but that also reflect the diversity of artistic talent on our shores.
Bkhz in Rosebank hosted a group exhibition in May prompted by the question of what life and living means. Each of the participating artists exhibited work connected to this question, and Nkhensani Mkhari’s For Father stood out as a deceptively simple response.
Mkhari’s practice is partly concerned with “migration, myth, and cultural practices of (re)memory”, and For Father is a deeply personal perspective on translocation and identity.
“Outside its striking radiant aesthetic quality, this flower (Canna hybrida) seems so ordinary, yet it’s extraordinary as it migrated from Somalia into the Johannesburg suburbs,” says Mkhari.
The work functions simultaneously as a tribute to Mkhari’s father, in addition to a statement on moving beyond the artificial borders that we are subjected to.
Mkhari has been part of numerous residencies, including the prestigious Fak’ugesi digital curation residency, and his career looks set to soar.
Setlamorago Mashilo’s gestural, graphic evocations of SA landscapes are imbued with symbolism and meaning. They function, on a level, as Mashilo’s way of locating himself within the cultural, social and political context of his upbringing and larger questions around what land means to those that live on it in SA.
His work incorporates iSepedi idioms and proverbs that are mnemonic devices for ancient belief systems, cultural values and norms that have been handed down for generations as networks of stability.
There is a haunting, otherworldly feel in the way that these expressions are attached to Mashilo’s surreal depictions of animals, mielie fields and roads that seem to lead nowhere.
The fact that Mashilo has a growing following was obvious by the size of the crowd at a recent exhibition of his work at the Everard Read Gallery in Joburg, so now would be an ideal time to snag one of his pieces for yourself.
Can there be an artist whose work is more synonymous with SA at the height of the Modernist movement than Jacob Hendrik Pierneef? His iconic umbrella thorn trees are instantly recognisable and his work graces some of the most prestigious art collections in the world.
“These are very nostalgically charged images,” says Strauss & Co’s Dr Alastair Meredith, head of art at the renowned auction house where an upcoming sale of Pierneef’s work is planned next month.
“A lot of South African expats from around the world are desperate to own works by Pierneef.”
This librarian turned artist is best known for his paintings, but keep your eye on his linocut prints, which offer an accessible way to add a Pierneef work to your art collection as they generally auction at a more competitive price point.
Pierneef was one of the few SA artists at the start of the 20th century to do his own printmaking, making his prints unique and thus very desirable.
Strauss’s auction JH Pierneef In/Sight — A single-artist auction dedicated to a modernist master goes live on July 19 at 7PM.
*Advice offered here should not be taken as qualified investment advice. This writer is not an investment consultant.