The latest hybrid iteration of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair (ICTAF) offers five different curated exhibitions and many fascinating possibilities for art lovers and collectors.
The physical Fair, which took a hiatus in 2021 due to the pandemic, will return to its usual venue, the Cape Town International Convention Centre, from February 18 to 20. There will also be a digital component thanks to a collaboration with European web and app platform, Artshell.
ICTAF director Laura Vincenti is co-curating three of the five shows at the Fair: the MAIN show; the new ALT project show with Sophie Lalonde (ICTAF head of VIP and partnerships), dedicated to artwork moving from the physical to the digital world; and the SOLO show with Mia Louw (ICTAF galleries and special projects liaison), a special artist’s showcase.
She sees the ICTAF as playing an increasingly important role on the continent. “The Fair creates opportunities for engagement and interaction about contemporary African art. We’re keen on offering digital and physical spaces for collaborative exchanges in particular, thus our theme for this, our ninth edition: “connect through art from Africa and the world”.
“The hybrid format is behind our special project exhibition ALT, which is dedicated to projects that reflect the many ways in which the art world had to adapt in response to the global shift from the physical to the virtual,” says Vincenti.
“In the other special project exhibition that I helped to curate, SOLO, we will explore how artists have reacted to the intimacy and introspection caused by the pandemic, as well as the effect that exchange and collaboration have on artistic practice as a whole,” Vincenti continues.
“This section, now in its fourth iteration, seeks to explore the artistic practices of artists working locally and abroad, through curated solo presentations.
“SOLO is an extension of the ICTAF’s project Insight-out, launched in 2020 — a playful Q&A addressed to artists during isolation, highlighting their everyday lives.
“More than ever, our MAIN section will see collaboration between different galleries and artists, a platform to be seen as an opportunity to commit on new projects that go beyond geographical and cultural barriers.”
Elsewhere at the Fair, Luigi Fassi (director at MAN Art Museum in Nuoro, Italy) and Nkule Mabaso (Fine Artist and Culture Consultant, South Africa) are the co-curators of TOMORROWS/TODAY, another special project showcase.
“For this show we decided to focus more on African practices and galleries based in SA and on the continent, to create a stronger statement on what the scene is offering,” says Fassi. “Visitors will come across different painting practices, and this mirrors the strength of this medium in the current moment.”
Mabaso adds, “The art fair is important for the local scene and a public moment of presentation and meeting, facilitating different conversations. And, because it happens so early in the year, it sets the pace of the art scene for the given year. It gives the highlights and sets a kind of momentum that is very generative and stimulating.”
The last of the five showcase exhibitions sees art dealer and adviser João Ferreira curate PAST/MODERN, a selection of masterworks in a show focused on collectors.
“We cannot wait to welcome old and new friends and partners to the Fair and provide a platform to connect, reconnect, and interact with one another. Nothing is as rewarding as exchanging opinions, emotions, and ideas in a physical art environment and nurturing the natural human needs of learning and sharing,” says Vincenti.
Galleries to check out at this year’s Fair
As befitting its status as Africa’s largest art fair, this year’s ICTAF gallery representation is extensive. The MAIN section sees South African artworld stalwarts Goodman Gallery, Stevenson and Everard Read put up their usual impressive and often international selections.
They are joined in the MAIN space by Cape Town-based galleries such as Southern Guild and WorldArt, and other established players such as SMAC, which has just reopened in Joburg to expand beyond its Cape footprint.
An emerging and eclectic presence is provided by galleries such as Kalashnikovv and Ebony/Curated.
An interesting addition to the ICTAF main floor is always the galleries from elsewhere in Africa, such as First Floor Gallery and Afriart.
In the curated special project exhibitions, the Fair offers visitors the opportunity to engage with art a little more off the beaten track. The TOMORROWS/TODAY special section includes work from Guns & Rain, THK and The Melrose Gallery.
The SOLO artist’s showcase draws on contributions from Berman Contemporary, Eclectica Contemporary and This Is Not A White Cube from Angola and Portugal, among others.
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• From the February edition of Wanted, 2022. This piece was produced in collaboration with the ICTAF.