One of the highlights of Joburg’s annual art calendar, FNB JoburgArtFair (from Sep 7-9) attracts up to 10,000 people over one weekend each year for a major art and social event showcasing some of the most impressive contemporary art from South Africa, and across the African continent including sculpture, painting, photography, prints and multimedia installations. Now in its eleventh year, the fair brings together more than 60 art galleries from across the continent this year representing a host of established and upcoming artists, plus more than half a dozen special projects and installations by this year’s featured artists. To help you navigate your way here’s our round-up of 10 incredible artists from across the continent to look out for at this year’s FNB JoburgArtFair:
One of Botswana’s most exciting young photographers Letso Leipego‘s engrossing images are layered with hidden qualities and references often brought together by subtle tricks of light and composition. Represented by Joburg-based gallery Guns & Rain, who describe his style as “bringing a revelatory tone to a style of ethnographic photography that has often been marred by a shadowy legacy”, Leipego’s evocative images shed new light on the personal histories and spirituality of Botswana’s rural communities.
This year’s winner of the prestigious FNB Art Prize, Cape Town-born artist and activist Haroon-Gunn Salie will be presenting a special installation at the fair based on his ongoing project Senzenina (pictured) that seeks to address the unresolved injustices surrounding the Marikana massacre. In his new visual and sound installation, visitors will be immersed in a 7.2-channel surround-soundscape that relives the fateful day in August 2012. Read more about Haroon Gunn-Salie’s powerful works here.
Dale Lawrence’s work as a solo artist and as part of the creative studio Hoick, which he co-founded, has become known for a tendency to marry painstaking application with wry humour. In his special presentation at this year’s art fair, Lawrence questions the sovereignty of professionalism and the commercial product, arguing that the job of an artist is the earnest pursuit of beauty, understanding and enlightenment (pictured from left ‘After de Sequeira’s Comunhão de Santo Onofre, having forgotten what I was looking for’ and After Gauguin, after closing on a high).
Working in a variety of mediums including print, installation, photography and video, Sue Williamson is part of a pioneering generation of South African artists who started to make art in the 1970s that addressed important themes of social change in what was then apartheid South Africa. Her latest work Messages from the Atlantic Passage (pictured above) is a large-scale installation based on accumulated records of the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century. Embodying a form of memorialization; each bottle represents an individual recorded on the slave ships that crossed the Atlantic.
This year’s FNB Art Fair featured artist is Malawi-born and Joburg-based Billie Zangewa, whose works can also be found in such prestigious collections as the Tate Modern and Smithsonian. Zangewa primarily uses raw silk offcuts to create intricate hand-stitched collages in a flat, colourful style. Her works typically depict women (often based on her own image) going about their every day domestic lives, sunbathing, reading, cleaning the kitchen, making dinner or getting ready for work. In these subtle snapshots, Zangewa explores the challenges of historical stereotyping of black female bodies and the universal themes and struggles that connect women together.
Angolan artist Jone Ferreira presents his latest project The Legend of Transformation which he started in early 2017. Working in his open-air studio Ferreira creates large-scale museological objects which he uses in his photographs to relay a sense of history both remembered and created, continually changing and transforming them as he seeks to represent the passage of time and ideologies through objects and photography.
Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh‘s boldly coloured, emotive portraits are instantly recognisable, and in recent years she has become one of one of Africa’s most sought after photographers and conceptual artists. Muluneh’s images tend to be intrinsically linked with Ethiopia, whether it be the landscape that they sit in, the clothes worn or the mix of colours and symbols chosen as Muleneh seeks to make the African continent “digestible in a different way” through her photography.
One of South Africa’s most important and influential artists, Roger Ballen‘s distinctive black and white ‘documentary fiction’ style of photography often blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. In recent years his images have also increasingly included illustration and drawing, used to create hybrid ‘Ballenesque’ scenes populated by dark and often grotesque imagery. In his latest solo project Unleashed, a collaboration with Dutch artist Hans Lemmen, Ballen revisits the unsettling depths of the human psyche mixing collage, photography and illustration in startling images co-produced with his Dutch collaborator.
Represented by SMAC Gallery, Jody Paulsen is known for his unique felt collage works which reference his mixed cultural heritage and queer identity, capturing an interest in consumer culture, identity, and generational anxiety through a masterful use of expression, gesture and abstraction. Paulsen refers to his works as both imagined portraits and self-portraits, saying that “there are queer and genderless aspects about each of these portraits, and I want it to feel relevant to a broad spectrum of people who are or feel queer”.
One of several outstanding photographers brought to the fair by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Zinyange Auntony is a freelance photojournalist, and alumni of Joburg’s prestigious Market Photo Workshop. Auntony describes his goal as being to make pictures that could be published as part of a news story, but also carry their own weight on the walls of a gallery or museum and he has a passion for photo essays “to me photojournalism is a lifestyle. I don’t know anything that is more rewarding than being able to go out and talk to people, listen to them and tell their stories through my lens. It in more than just a job, there is nothing like it.”
Tickets are now on sale for the FNB JoburgArtFair 2018 which runs from Sep 7-9 at Sandton Convention Centre. Buy your tickets online here.