Art fair to put Jozi in international limelight

Patience Bambalele

After a successful Joburg Art Fair last year, the art community will once again celebrate the skills of top African contemporary artists.

Last year, Joburg became the first city to stage one of the biggest art events in Africa. Now, the 2nd Joburg Art Fair takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from April 3 until April 5 .

Boasting the largest collection of African contemporary art, this year's Art Fair will feature 36 visual artists.

Art Fairs are always about the business of art, combining art and lifestyle and appealing to an audience that might ordinarily shy away from gallery space.

This year, art lovers can look forward to a more eclectic experience, drawing a huge array of creative individuals from across the African continent.

Though the event has given artists and galleries a platform, one would question the significance of staging an Art Fair in a developing country like South Africa.

The success of an Art Fair is all about sustainability and building a brand over time.

Prince Dube, one of the respected curators in South Africa, believes that hosting such event will boost the economy of the country.

"Institutes like commercial galleries will benefit a lot in the Art Fair and the market will be introduced to a new spectacle," he says.

While the culture of Art Fair is still new in Africa, it has been in existence for the past 30 years in many countries.

Most art fairs have a broad reach encompassing cultural areas beyond fine art and including design and architectural sections, as well as the traditional modes of visual expression such as painting, photography and sculpture.

Last year, the Art Fair was curated by international curator, Simon Njami, who did an outstanding job. This year, Tumelo Mosaka, from the Brooklyn Museum, has been assigned to lead the event.

Mosaka is a South African, who has won accolades internationally.

Artlogic director Ross Douglas says: "We didn't want to increase the size of the fair by simply adding more commercial galleries. Instead we approached art bodies like the Goethe and French institutes that would normally back biennales and offered them free space to fund an activity that would maximise the visitor's experience.

"We extended the concept to include the best of design, video art and new projects in the art space."

Institutes such as Culturesfrance, Gallery Momo and French Institute of South Africa, will be presenting a selection of African photography, entitled Encounters of Bamako.

In order to balance everything, Artlogic has come up with a discussion programme where artists from each participating gallery will talk to audiences about their vision and practice.

This year's event will boast an on-site Vida e Caffe and a slinky lounge bar in the heart of all the networking and social action.

In a joint venture with Artlogic, Trevyn McGowan of Source will be curating a stand showcasing work by South Africa's leading designers.