The Turbine Art Fair is one of my favorite events held every year in Joburg.
This year was no different, if only slightly busier than years before (which can only be a good thing for the event and featured artists).
I often find that when there are a group of local artisans gathered you get a sense of an overarching theme, this year I’d say I was left with a strong reminder of our countries past, but a positive feeling of building up towards a stronger future. There were a few political messages I picked up on as well.
Here are a few of my highlights from the fair;
The Casspir Project (Spoek 1)
For me personally, the first and most significant highlight was The Casspir Project (Spoek 1) installation.
We were lucky enough to catch the talk by some of the artists involved. This project was conceptualized by South African artist and film director Ralph Ziman, who now resides in the USA. The Casspir was a South African military vehicle, largely used in the time of our countries oppressive history. An intimidating force used by the South African apartheid-era police, and by the South African Defense Force. After being decommissioned some of the vehicles were sold to the US Military where they were used in war in Iraq and more recently showed up in the Black Lives Matter protest. The irony is not lost on anyone there.
The project focuses on reclamation, something the artist felt was important in confronting the history of the country he “left behind”.
Zimans accounts of witnessing these vehicles in rows of ten or more speeding down the streets of Soweto and other townships left me with a very deep understanding of why this project was so important to him.
Confronting the past can often only be done when there is a dialogue about the past and the viability of moving forward. The Casspir Spoek 1 is a beautiful piece, covered in tiny glass beadwork in traditional patterns and was a collaborative effort by Zimbabwean and Mpumalanga artisans as well as a women from a Ndebele tribe known for their craftsmanship.
DF Contemporary pushed all the right buttons
DF Contemporary featured some of my favorite pieces this year, starting with ceramic sculptor Ella Cronje’.
I was obsessed by the fantastical element to her work. Both child-like and complex, the detail drew me in and the beauty kept me staring.
I actually very much regret not purchasing the “Leda and the Swan” piece which I haven’t managed to get out of mind since.
Then there was Olga Esthers series of “Princesses who do not want to be princesses”. These were some of the most breathtakingly beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen.
So much emotion in the eyes of girls who seem to know more than they ever should.
The exceptional use of color only added to the overall mood these girls convey. An outstanding part of the fair for me.
I read this outtake by DF Contemporary about the artist and this work:
“Olga Esther is a Spain-based painter and illustrator. She is a graduate of the Fine Arts University of Politecnica De Valencia, and she was awarded two art scholarships in Prague and Mexico. Olga Esther paints princesses who do not want to be princesses, birds who cry blood and toads who kill themselves because they are ignored…
She uses the ‘princess-tales’ symbology to talk about gender and feminism. She paints the invisible ones, the little forgotten girls, those little nobodies in this world. But above all she paints all those who although they are still nobody, do not have anyone.”
Heritage in Pierneef
So the art fanatics may kill me for saying this, but I actually didn’t know all that much about Pierneef – probably because I’ve always focused more on modern, contemporary arts.
Now, I don’t think I’d ever invest in one of his paintings (I just get a strange reminder of colonialism when I think about the times these were done in – also I’m not sure I could ever afford to). But one can not fault the talent and craftsmanship. It was indeed spectacular.
There were two areas where Pierneefs work was being featured, but in the main Pierneef exhibition room there were paintings of his earlier work dating back to 1910, in pristine condition.
Here are some of his pieces that really blew me away:
The TAF 2017 left me with a lot of inspiration overall, here are some more pieces that stood out for me for you to ogle over, enjoy 🙂