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THE SOUTH AFRICAN

ART TIMES
www.arttimes.co.za • April 2008 • Issue 4 Vol 3 • Subscription RSA 180 p.a • April Print & Distrib. 7 000 copies • RSA Free. Available in Namibia & Zimbabwe

Photo: Paul Weinberg (detail)
Page 2 South African Art Times. April 2008

FAIR DEAL
The South African

Art Times
April 2008
www.arttimes.co.za Alex Dodd reports back from the Joburg Art Fair 2008
Published monthly by
Global Art Information Ping! I’ve got mail. And… it’s the ist empire while the Fair was lerists, who were rumoured to be was no designated slinky bar or the Wayne Barker series People
PO Box 15881 Vlaeberg,
official postmortem press release underway was a criticism of its a little nose out of joint about the lounge where buyers and artists Who Love Themselves, on show
8018, Cape Town summing up the exhilaratingly commercial nature. ‘All that un- fact that, As You Like It, the pan- could meet over a Martini to at the NSA stand. These small
Tel. 021 424 7733 manic buying and networking conscionable moolah… exclusive African show originated by the discuss their mutual prospects glowing portraits were something
Fax. 021 424 7732 frenzy that was the first Joburg highbrow Sandton Convention organizers and curated by Simon in Dubai. I was told by one disap- we haven’t seen from Barker be-
Editor Art Fair, during which 22 major Centre… too white… kugel Njami of Africa Remix acclaim, pointed international scenester fore, something new and daring
Gabriel Clark-Brown galleries took up 5000 square fetishism… lack of meaningful was a commercial endeavour. that at Miami Basel there’s an to show off at the Fair.
editor@arttimes.co.za metres of the high-rent Sandton analysis… shallow market driven The argument was that this put unofficially decreed spot where
Advertising
Convention Centre to tout the tastes… bla bla bla.’ Well, to the paid-up galleries in competi- everyone knows they’ll catch a Then there was the frisson
Leone Rouse largest collection of African and me, that seemed like a naïve tion for sales with the organizers bit of art fair action. Hopefully between the hard-talking Jo’burg
leo@arttimes.co.za South African contemporary art and misguided argument, like who ceased to be a neutral, we can look forward to rubbing galleries and their straight-dress-
the world has ever seen beneath griping about the price of caviar disinterested party. shoulders with rising stars of the ing artists, and the more oblique,
News: press@arttimes.co.za
Shows: show@arttimes.co.za one roof. in the food hall at Les Galleries local art world at such a joint understated Cape Town galleries
Artwork: art@arttimes.co.za Lafayette. This niggle ended up being next year. and their Diesel-drag, mullet-
So what’s the verdict? ‘A re- something of a red herring, coiffed brigade of hipster fiends.
Layout and Design
Dogsswagger
sounding success,’ trumpets the Obviously it’s a commercial because the curated show Then there’s the issue of prices. The difference between the art
release. ‘More than 6 500 people endeavour. It’s an Art Fair, turned out to be a fairly dismal The Fair was supposed to offer scenes in these two urban cen-
Deadlines for news, articles and clas- attended… with nearly R30-mil- the equivalent of an upscale proposition and one of the Fair’s an in for first time buyers, but I tres is fairly polar. But opposites
sifieds 20th of each month
The Art Times is published in the first lion worth of art work sold during hypermarket for the tastefully few weaknesses. As much as I couldn’t find anything worthwhile attract and the Douglas says that
week of each month. News and ad- the four-day art bonanza.’ Phew, inclined consumer of rare goods might be a fan of Njami’s critical under the R7 000 tag – hardly an all the galleries that participated
vertising material need to be with the
news and marketing managers by the R30-million! That’s a whole lot of mercurial hyper-inflated value. thinking and writing, As You Like enticing prospect for the aspirant in this year’s show have signed
15th- 20th of each month. of aesthetic hunger, proving Art- And since when has art been so It struck me as being a uniformly collector. up again for next year and that
logic impresario Ross Douglas’s exempt from capitalism’s filthy uncompelling and fairly shoddily ten more galleries will be added
Newspaper rights
The newspaper reserves the right to reject persuasive claim that African tentacles in the first place? put together affair. And by Sun- But let’s not nitpick. For an to the 2009 extravaganza.
any material that could be found offensive contemporary art is a highly day afternoon, I didn’t notice too inaugural event, the Art Fair
by its readers. Opinions expressed in the
SA Art Times do not necessarily represent magnetic investment in an oth- ‘People tended to romanticize many red stickers on those dark was a dazzling success and you And if you didn’t read about it
the official viewpoint of the editor, staff or erwise wobbly economy in which the Fair,’ says gallerist David black walls in the centre of the couldn’t but get excited by the here, you could have read about
publisher, while inclusion of advertising
features does not imply the newspaper’s property, for one, has taken an Brodie, who successfully used room, which some had started hugeness of the moment at the it in the Dutch Financial Times,
endorsement of any business, product or all too sobering nosedive and the Art Fair as an opportunity to to describe as ‘the Black Hole’ glitzy opening night party, where online at Art + Auction or ArtInfo
service. Copyright of the enclosed mate-
rial in this publication is reserved.
a tank of petrol is costing as boost the growing reputation his referring to the negative spatial FNB suits, Desperate House- or seen it on CNN. It seems that
much as an impromptu sketch by new gallery Art Extra and profile dynamics of the show’s layout. wife stilettos, auteur hats and the Joburg Art Fair was the big
painterly satirist Lizza Littlewort his younger artists. ‘With the fashionista waistcoats shimmied global breakthrough we all hoped
SUBSCRIPTIONS of Whatiftheworld fame. ghost of CAPE hovering on the And while we’re on weaknesses, through the stalls taking in the it would be and there are a fair
periphery, people were desperate the other aspect Artlogic could best contemporary work that number of gallerists and artists
NAMIBIA But ‘a resounding success’? for it to be so many other things, improve upon next year, is South African and international who are laughing all the way to
Call John at: Is that an honest verdict? I’d but you couldn’t pretend it’s was finding a better way to accom- galleries have to offer right now. the bank as a result of it. (Three
Tel: +264 81 1286585 say so. Of course, behind a biennale. An art fair is a trade modate the schmooze factor editions of Angus Taylor’s epic
every headline hides a knotty show, like a glorified Rand Show, – that crucial social aspect of art One had an electric sense of all R1-million rock sculpture were
ZIMBABWE compound of contesting view- but instead of Kreeply Kraulies world networking. Although the the gallerists stepping up to the sold at the Everard Read stand
Gallery Delta points. So let’s unpack a few being on the floor, there are organizers did put a fair amount mark in a big, bold way – each on the opening night alone.) Per-
110 Livingstone Avenue,
of them. Firstly, let’s get the R150 000 sculptures.’ of effort into curating the Joburg putting his very best foot forward sonally though, as gratifying as
Greenwood Park, Harare,
Tel/fax: (263-4) 792135 curmudgeonly murmurs from the Art Week – a parallel programme to ensure the rent was worth it was to cruise those stalls and
ael@twinarts.co.zw holier-than-thou clan of wannabe So we’ll start by accepting that of events that took place in and it. There was also evidence of absorb the ripples of the whole
Gilles Deleuzes out of the way. Art Fairs worldwide are ruthlessly around the Fair itself – most of artists, using the Fair as a public goddamn scene under one roof, I
Get your free copy The main muffled disgruntlement mercenary market-driven events. these events, including the big incentive to rise to their own think I’ll save my pennies for less
delivered to your door that seemed to circulate the The other slightly more legitimate Saturday night disco meltdown, private occasions. I was struck, peak moments on the global art
www.arttimes.co.za peripheries of the late capital- beef was on the part of the gal- were located downtown. There for example, by the freshness of calendar.
South African Art Times. April 2008 Page 3

KUNSGALERY
Joburg Art Fair pulls R27-m success JOHANS BORMAN
Not all the galleries were looking to turn a buck at the fair but most profited, writes Mary Corrigall
FINE ART GALLERY
Although most gallerists were at the fair; many of the smaller of new clients; it means the mar- cost R1000 per square metre,
keeping their sales figures close gallery owners also waxed lyrical ket is growing. If the entrance making the 200 square metre
to their chests, by all accounts
the first Joburg Art Fair was a
about their takings.
One small independent Joburg
fee was cheaper (it cost R200) it
might have encouraged a wider
stands come with a price tag of
R200 000, according to Douglas. CAPE TOWN
roaring commercial success. gallery that preferred to remain selection of buyers,” observed Based on most gallerists’
According to Ross Douglas, anonymous said they received Rhodes. favourable feedback, however, it
head of Artlogic, the firm that a 500 percent return on their seems that everyone did recoup
staged the event, accumulative investment in the art fair. Heidi Erdmann of the Erdmann their costs. Well, except for Art-
sales amounted to R27 million. Not only did this gallery sell Contemporary and Photogra- logic that made a loss of R1-mil-
“It was a financial success. If everything in their stand but they phers Gallery in Cape Town lion, according to Douglas, who
- you compare the figures with the secured 40 advance orders for concurred with Rhodes, suggest- was unfazed by the outcome.
Glasgow Art Fair that has been artworks from their small stable ing that the majority of her sales “We expected to lose money in
running for a decade and only of artists. were to novice collectors and the first year, we will probably
did a turnover of around £1.2 “We totally underestimated what that recurrent art buyers didn’t only make a profit in the third
–million last year we are doing the sales were going to be like, venture past the Joburg galleries year,” he said.
incredibly well for our first year,” had we known we would have they normally patronised. She
said Douglas. brought more art with us to the also noticed the absence of As one may have gathered from
fair,” he said. corporate buyers. Douglas’ remarks, the Joburg Art
t Artworks were flying off the As a new gallery still establish- “There were no international Fair will not be a once off event.
makeshift walls at the fair, ob- ing a name and a client base curators, publishers or media at Douglas said that all of the 22
served Emma Bedford, director they found the art fair to be an the art fair like you get at interna- galleries that participated this Philip Barlow, Pause. 100 x 150 cm
of Goodman Cape. indispensable marketing tool. tional art fairs.” year and ten additional galleries
“Everybody was really upbeat. “We left the fair with a regis- Erdmann clocked up sales but have already expressed interest
We sold a phenomenal amount ter full of names and contact said she did not participate in the in taking part in the 2009 Joburg
of work; we had to rehang every- numbers of prospective clients,” art fair to make money. “I make Art Fair. A showcase for the best of
day. Linda (Givon) had reserva- beamed the gallery’s owner. enough sales from my gallery I South African Masters,
tions before the show but she is don’t need to attend an art fair to While no galleries have signed
beaming now,” said Bedford. Many up-and-coming Cape acquire sales.” on the dotted line as yet, Bed- as well as some leading
Town-based galleries, however, Erdmann participates in art fairs ford, Rhodes and Michau said contemporary artists.
Jacques Michau of the Everard seemed to be less enthusiastic around the world and says that they were all looking forward to
Read Gallery in Johannesburg about their financial returns, her primary motive for taking attend the fair next year.
dwas more than satisfied with his implying that they hadn’t partici- part is to network with interna- “The art fair really created a
gallery’s takings. pated in the fair to garner sales. tional curators and publishers sense of community between Telephone: 021 423 6075
“The sales were good.” “We approached the fair with so as to promote the artists she gallerists and dealers, I think
The Everard Read did not sell a different objective; we are a represents. For that reason she we have learnt that we need www.johansborman.co.za
all the artworks they displayed young gallery and we wanted felt that the Joburg Art Fair was to all stand together to make
but they had no problem shifting to make a statement. I think it disappointing. Erdmann also an impact internationally,” said Mon-Fri: 10h00 - 18h00
several pricier works in the R1- was obvious from the Julia Rosa felt that the booths were not Rhodes. Sat: 09h00 - 14h00
million region. Clarke installation that selling competitively priced. or by appointment
It was also rumoured that a 1947 wasn’t our top priority,” said
artwork by Gerard Sekoto, which Justin Rhodes, co-owner of the “A booth at a New York art fair In Fin Art Building
was displayed at Michael Ste- Whatiftheworld gallery. costs half the price. Even Paris Upper Buitengracht Street, Cape Town 8001
venson’s curated show, Travel Most gallerists observed the ma- Photo only charge R120 000 for Cell: 082 566 4631
I Your Road and Travel Along, jority of the 6 500 visitors to the a booth and at least you have
s fetched over R5m. art fair to be primarily Joburgers exposure to a wider international E-mail: art@johansborman.co.za
But it wasn’t just the big galleries and first-time buyers. audience,” she said.
that enjoyed financial success “It is great that there were a lot The stands at the Joburg Art Fair
Page 4 South African Art Times. April 2008

Photo documentary of The Joburg Art Fair 2008. All photographs by John Hodgkiss, courtesy of Art Logic

Visitors outside Gallery MOMO’s Stall Artist Wayne Barker in good form during interview on the opening night

Justin Rhodes and Cameron Munro’s What if the World Gallery Conrad Botha beautiful wall art on Michael Stevenson Gallery stall wall

Inside the Joao Ferreira Stall Warren Siebritz and friend at Warren Siebritz Contemporary Stall

Joburg Art Fair Director: Ross Douglas and Cobi Laubuscagne on the opening night
South African Art Times. April 2008 Page 5
GG_ArtTimes_83x200_310308 3/31/08 4:17 PM Page 1
C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

Stern, Irma (1894 - 1966) ‘Still Life with Dahlias in a Vase’, Oil on canvas,
76.5 x 76.5 cm. Signed ‘Irma Stern’ (lower/right). Dated 1941

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Sarah Keys 084 568 5639
Gallery 011 465 9192

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Outside the busy Everard Read Gallery Stall – with Angus Taylor’s giant sculptures
Page 6 South African Art Times. April 2008

Andries Botha’s new street piece...
Latitude 33° 55’ South. Longitude 18° 22’ East
As a Cape battle about public sculpture commissions continues, a private initiative is unveiled.

By Melvyn Minnaar Unfazed over coffee, he clearly and a gentle hiss announces the On ‘opening night’ some ‘tiles’ that run into the sea. Of course, making the news - mostly for the
had full confidence that the skilful lifting of four central pieces of had already been chipped. It is the ‘lifting’ of a square from the wrong reasons.
At a time when public sculpture men who work with the basics the landscape jigsaw, as a cube remarkably tempting to walk on the deep of the landscape has a paral-
is very much in the news - some would pull it off. Next night, when of dark teak wood slowly rises. deliciously uneven surface. lel to typical archaeological ‘digs’. A tragedy was the theft and
being stolen by scallywags, other the mysterious, metre-square It glimmers and then you realise Botha explained that the multi- horrible destruction of the bronze
proposals being questioned by wooden cube of L 33° 55’ S. L 18° the wood is wet, as it sinks back, layered concept started when he Andries Botha’s new artwork on memorial at the magistrate’s court
disaffected artists - a quiet little 22’E slowly rose from the depths unannounced. stood admiring the open lifts as it a Cape Town street is a delightful in Athlone for ANC cadres Coline
street art event in Cape Town’s below the pavement, his trust was The impact of the strangeness of addition to our cluttered civic Williams and Robert Waterwitch.
newly-glamorous Waterkant sug- proved. And after the speeches, Sadly sold to a scrap metal dealer
gests that a private commission he called them all up to take the for allegedly R9 000, the work was
can pull it off. salute. commissioned in 2005 for some
R330 000. (Now if only the team of
Pull-it-off, in this instance, is a well- It was Marilyn Martin, Iziko direc- thieves knew that!)
chosen, loaded description of the tor, doing the official unveiling, who
sequence of events that led to the pointed out Botha’s way of working Equally sad about that incident
unveiling, on a cheerful late-sum- with others, charging their skills was the fact that none of the news-
mer afternoon, of Kwazulu/Natal- and craft; also his manner of giving papers cared to name the artists
based artist Andries Botha’s kinetic them acknowledgement, while who had conceived and produced
street piece in Hudson Street. challenging their processes. this, one of the very few smart and
elegant, public sculptures in the
Let’s put it this way: 24 hours To have produced L 33° 55’ S. L city. There was no mention in the
before the party for the formalities 18° 22’E for a real street life, did news of master sculptors Guy du
on the doorstep of architect Leon indeed throw up tricky questions Toit and Egon Tania.
Saven’s elegant new multi-purpose for engineers and building crafts-
building, The Hudson, the fancy men to answer. A few weeks later, when the city
concrete bollards that act as light- authorities announced that Wilma
ers of the sculpture piece had not So what is L 33° 55’ S. L 18° 22’E Cruise and Gavin Younge’s con-
been cast. The custom-designed ? What does Cape Town’s newest cept for the new Slave memorial
hoist had barely been through it privately-commissioned public art on Church square was accepted,
test runs and some of the slabs work comprise? a minor rebellion broke out, seem-
still had to be positioned. ingly mostly by artists who had
Hudson streetwalkers will find their eye on the commission.
At the Origin pavement table next to the left of the entrance to the the action and the water, softly dra- took off behind the solid glass that
door, Andries Botha was cheerfully new building an area of some four matic, oddly engaging, obviously backgrounds the space originally environment. The fact that it was All this, of course, once again
sipping a flat white and explaining square metres that seems paved needs to be tested against many, reserved for a public sculpture. privately commissioned is an im- stirred up the everlasting contro-
how the concept developed. In by curiously-carved flat panels. many casual passers-by on the His idea was not to obscure that portant marker. As Martin pointed versy about public art and that
typical Botha fashion, the piece, Closer inspection reveals a kind pavement. But, at least in theory scene, and then to parallel the out, sadly there is no tradition bugbear of democracy: consulta-
enigmatically-named Latitude 33° of flattened three-dimensional, - make that a hefty, clever theory flight of the lift movement. of commissioning art when new tion - and who decides. Naturally,
55’ South. Longitude 18° 22’ East, stylised topographical landscape - the concept sits well with the idea building plans and budgets are a public commission like that in
had taken some wonky turns and, laid out in half-metre square ce- of art that stops you on the street. Flying back to Durban, the drawn up. Hudson street, will have none of
more importantly, challenged his ment-cast ‘tiles’. landscape view down inspired the that.
collaborating craftspeople to the The physicality is cool even topographical design. The idea of The new Botha piece was unveiled
hilt. Stand around for a while, or sit hip, yet one will wonder how it the wet block of hard teak comes at a time when other contemporary
on one of the three bollard-seats, will stand up to wear and tear. from the durable, wooden jetties commissioned monuments were
South African Art Times. April 2008 Page 7

Rise in copper price and low theft conviction rate gives pause for thought
on the use of new cheaper materials for public sculpture
Patrick Burnett talks with some leading sculptors on the matter
Life-sized bronze statues of struggle issue as it is a material that has not
heroes Robbie Waterwitch and been around for such a long time as
Coline Williams, MK cadres killed bronze. But it’s not just as simple as
in an explosion outside the Athlone concrete or plastic. The problem is
Magistrate’s Court on July 23, 1989, that there is little technical capacity
were brazenly stolen in March from out there. At universities there is little
opposite the Athlone police station. technical training, with an increased
The thieves, who attempted to sell focus on the conceptual aspects.
the statues for scrap metal, appar- People must think pragmatically and
ently attached ropes to the figures out of the box. Technology allows
and then toppled them with the a great variety of new possibilities
help of a bakkie, before loading them which were not available 50 years
up and driving away. ago, yet we still only, or mostly, think
However, a City of Cape Town task of ‘model-mould-cast-methods’.
team known as the Copperheads
tracked down 300kg of the carved- Andries Botha
up statues and 10 suspects were Award-winning sculptor
arrested. They appeared in the
Athlone Magistrate’s Court on March I am making a concrete sculpture at
13 and their case is set to continue the moment and it was not guided by
on May 30. Shirley Gunn, director that [the problem of theft] but it is a
of the Human Rights Media Centre, massive problem. Even the informed
was quoted in newspaper reports as public is not respectful of creativity in
saying that the Athlone thefts would the public space. If we move away
force a reflection on the security and from art in the public space then we
maintenance of materials used in lose the opportunity to engage it
community memorials. as part of the public discourse. We
She said it was sad materials used should be addressing ways in which
by artists were easily carted off for to manage the public space. Part of
short-term gain. “It has affected the responsibility is the responsibility
me very deeply. The community of the management of public space.
should talk about these things that
undermine our democracy and what Brett Murray
we fought for,” said Gunn. Created the public sculpture Africa in
Cape Town
The Athlone statues, created by
Guy du Toit and Egon Tania, are the If people want to work in bronze
latest in a wave of metal thefts from – and it is a seductive, hardy mate-
public spaces. rial – then people must work with it. It
Rising metal prices, especially for does not lie with the artist to change,
copper, have driven the thefts, it is the responsibility of the police to
which raise important questions for bring the culprits to justice and put
public artworks made from valuable them in jail. I suppose one must just
materials. secure the works better. There are
criminals out there who want to steal
The South African Art Times asked and it says nothing about the state of
five artists and sculptors for their public art. You can educate people
thoughts on the thefts and the about the value of public art, but if it’s
implications for public art, including not secured properly and the metal
whether the thefts would lead to an is valuable it will be stolen.
increase in the use of materials with
lesser value such as cement and Stephen Hobbs
plastic. Well-known artist

Angus Taylor The issue with theft is interesting.
We get commissioned a lot to do
Creator of numerous sculptures, public art work and it is specified (Above) Pieter van Dalen member of the crack “Copperheads” unit who’s teams investigation recovered the sculpture within 3 days of theft. (Below)
including one of Brenda Fassie in that the work must be durable and a once moving statue of the struggle heroes on their way to bomb their target (it is suspected that they picked up the tampered limpet mine from a
Newtown, Johannesburg ‘unstealable’. The Juta Street trees counter insurgency member) (Right) Memory dismemberment - hacked pieces of the sculpture ready for the smelter. (all photo’s, bar the left image of
in Johannesburg made from 4mm intact sculpture by Guy du Toit and Egon Tania. - are by Neil Baynes of allround photography.com
There are problems with plastic and mild steel have sustained a bit of
cement. The problem with concrete graffiti, but to this day not a single Working with bronze or any kind of Guy du Toit problem with the copper price going cement as seriously as they do
is it works as a closed composition one has been stolen and they have valuable metal is a pointless exer- Created the sculpture of Waterwitch through the roof. There are certain bronze. I’m very biased towards
but might crack and break where the been integrated into the street. cise. The challenge to public artists and Williams in association with things you can do with metal that bronze, but don’t have a problem in
thin pieces meet up with thicker sec- The neighbourhood seems to have is to come up with inventive ways to Egon Tania you can’t do with cement or plastic. working in a material that has little
tions, due to expansion differences, embraced them as valuable to work within the confines of durable Bronze has an intrinsic value that value.
so an open hand, for example, won’t enhancing the environment. but undesirable materials so that the It would be sad not to cast things in makes it precious. I think it will take
work. With plastic it is a longevity Working work still looks stunning. bronze, but it’s becoming a real quite a while before people take

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