The last time I wrote about artist Willem Boshoff I called him a messiannic bergie, and I meant that in the nicest possible way. Last night he was at it again, this time outside the Goodman Gallery in Parkwood, as the crowds rolled in for the opening of his latest exhibition SWAT.
Go to Sandton Square for the Public Art around the World exhibition. On Tuesday night on a corner of Sandton – called Burghers Walk – I was last at during the height of World Cup fever I witnessed an extraordinary performance by Marcus Neustetter. Titled “Erosion” it involved thousands of brilliantly-lit neon glowsticks being thrown down a stairway in the darkness by a troupe of performers dressed in workman’s overalls who then proceeded to sweep up every last brilliant piece of light, bundling them back into trashcans to be carried off. A comment on the fragility and impermanence of the world of imagination and dreams, Continue reading →
#216. Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine we took a walk along the hip stretch of Juta Street in Braamfontein. Braamfontein’s re-imagining is more than talk and the colourful little complex of stores and offices on 70 Juta Street bears this out [It officially opened last weekend]. We started off at POST for their homemade lemonade and a tasty snack-sized prego roll. With its glass front POST is a perfect spot to sip something while observing street life (in this city of malls and walls that’s a luxury). Continue reading →
#215. Explore the double negative. I spent last Saturday at the Goodman Gallery listening to Ivan Vladislavic and David Goldblatt in conversation about their limited double edition [TJ and Double Negative] with the delightful Marlene van Niekerk [author of the award-winning Triomf and Agaat] who had been coaxed from Stellenbosch to speak with the “masters of Joburg”. Both of whom, in her words, have a commitment to the “the reductive mysteries of things as they are”. Warm, full of wit and nuance, the conversation took some interesting turns Continue reading →
#193 Look forward to one of my favourite events in this city – the Joburg Art Fair. Now in its third year the Fair has done for Joburg what the Design Indaba has done for Cape Town – made the city the capital of edgy contemporary hip-ness for a few glorious days. Last week I got a chance to talk to its founder, Ross Douglas of ArtLogic at his office/home — a real urban fashion statement in Milpark overlooking the huge circular tower of Egoli Gas.
Lawrence Lemaoana's Dancers on the Wall, 2009
Douglas previously co-produced William Kentridge’s 9 Drawings for Projection, and worked in film and TV. He came to setting up the Art Fair “through a strange series of steps” and was determined to see if he could wrest some sponsorship for an art event in a country where the big corporate money had long been earmarked for sport. The Fair was conceived of as a place where corporate South Africa and the contemporary art world should meet.
When he first started selling the idea one famous gallery owner remarked “I don’t know if anyone will come to that“.
An introduction to Paul Harris, First Rand CEO – FNB has been the Fair’s major sponsor since its inception – was the catalyst.
The challenges of holding an Art Fair in South Africa are not small. “How do you position an Art Fair in Africa?” says Douglas. For one thing there is no neighbouring art industry. Unlike in Europe, the US or South America the continent does not have a gallery system and most people’s perception of African art is that it is “craft”. The Joburg Art Fair was determined to change that – to shift the focus away from the folksy cliches of tourist art and onto contemporary work – art that makes a statement about “the time we live in and the place we live in”. Continue reading →
#192. Take in Sue Pam-Grant’s latest work. The writer, performer and theatre director has over the past few years turned to fine art – with some amazing results. She has a shop in Melville next to the Bamboo Centre that I often drive past. Although to call it a shop isn’t quite accurate as its window reveals an ever-changing tableau of the artist’s work. A living breathing installation that masquerades as a shop. Always intriguing, and entertaining while you sit sandwiched between cars in Joburg traffic waiting for the light to change. Continue reading →
#182. Think of covering the walls with some highly covetable posters. To mark the (dare I say it – FIFA, don’t shoot) World Cup in South Africa in 2010 (there it’s out and so far the use of those words together in one sentence has brought me neither a lightning bolt nor an ominous knock at the door. In fact those German Shepherds barking are mine) a number of local and international artists were commissioned to produce some truly gorgeous works of art. An official Art Posters Edition series that “celebrates and pays homage to the beautiful game“.
#167. Take in Joburg’s newest and hippest gallery space. Saturday morning and the sun was shining, the jacarandas dropping purple snow while artist Willem Boshoff held court outside the Circa gallery looking part messiah, and as a friend remarked part “bergie”.
I have spent months driving past that corner on Jan Smuts Avenue growing ever more intrigued by the ambitious oval-shaped building with its clean lines, spiral concrete staircase and it’s finned exterior. No cupolas, no Toscana Afrikana pretensions — just clean, beautiful lines, as they should be.
#152. Wonder whether walls make us safer? This after 24 hours in which I attended a community meeting with a security company in my area and then spent yesterday at a seminar called cracking walls at the Goethe Institute in Parkwood, Johannesburg. The Goethe is thinking a lot about cracking walls, what with the 20th anniversary of the “fall” of the Berlin Wall approaching, and now so am I. Continue reading →