FNB Joburg Art Fair 2018

FNB Joburg Art Fair opening night

I’m not a great fan of attending exhibition openings – too many people and too little art, but I was asked to be a friend’s ‘Plus-one’ at the opening evening of the FNB Joburg Art Fair at the Sandton Convention Centre a few weeks ago. I couldn’t turn that down particularly as I was not sure that I would get back to see it.

Haroon Gunn-Salie’s Senzenina- Reflection Space

There was way too much to see in one visit so I did make it back if not only to experience Haroon Gunn-Salie’s Senzenina-Reflection Space, an audio installation in a darkened booth. The 15 minute soundscape recalls the horror of the events of 16 August 2012 – the Marikana Massacre.  Gunn-Salie’s soundscape is dramatic and sobering. Soothing rural sounds of cowbells and the murmuring of cowherds; the relentless brutal stuttering of underground mining jackhammers; the seemingly endless clanking and creaking of the cage bringing miners to the surface; site recordings from the catastrophic events with police opening fire; ending with hauntingly sung lamentations by the miners.  It’s impactful, gut-wrenching and oh so powerful.  It certainly needed some time to regroup emotions – the reflection embedded in the title of the work.  

Stay at Liz at Lancaster Guest House

Stay at our well located Guest House and visit the next FNB Joburg Art Fair. View our Craighall Guest House for Rates and Availability!

So here are a few visuals of some of the other works that spoke to me: 

Sue Williamson’s Message from the Atlantic Passage 

‘Messages from the Atlantic Passage’ an installation by Sue Williamson. See explanatory text below. Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za
Sue Williamson’s ‘Messages from the Atlantic’ – explanatory text


















Sanaa Gateja’s Beaded wall hanging 

This piece I covert! An exquisite wall hanging by the Ugandan artist Sanaa Gateja. Made out of paper beads -hence Gateja is known as the “Bead King’ Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za
Detail of Sanaa Gateja’s wall hanging. Wouldn’t this look great in one of Liz at Lancaster’s rooms?  Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

Angus Taylor’s Kneeling Man

The brut forms, sheer weight, scale, hard material; and implied pent-up power of Angus Taylor’s monumental sculpture, is striking. This work can be seen back at the Everard Read Gallery in the Keyes Art Mile. Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

Pedro Pires Standing Figure

A very bad photo of Pedro Pires work (works behind glass are impossible to photograph without professional lighting). He uses heat and sparks from a welding torch to form the image. I love the contrast of the violence of the technique and medium with the ethereal quality of the image. Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

Bronywn Lace (work photographed at the Art Fair but now back at Everard Read Gallery until 6th October)

Bronwyn Lace’s work comprising a mirror on the wall (with origami paper cranes) and a gold disc on the floor also with origami paper cranes. The work is on show at Bronwyn Lace’s exhibition Mirror Mirror at the Everard Read Gallery until 6th October. Reflected in the mirror are some of Guy Ferrer’s 9 bronze sculptures from : T.o.l.e.r.a.n.c.e.  Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

The label for Bronwyn Lace’s work at Everard Read Gallery reads: 

Booth selling items based on Yayo Kusama designs

Yayoi Kusama is the famous Japanese avant-garde artist who found a way to deal with her mental illness by making art.

This is late-ish on the last day, Sunday
At this booth at the Art Fair, a large Kusama-like mural awaits to be coloured in by visitors. This is opening night. Source: ww.lizatlancaster.co.za

Chris Soal: To know that one is dreaming is to be no longer perfectly asleep

A work by Chris Soal reminded me of Meret Oppenheim’s famous 1936 work of the Fur Tea Cup. The grotesque contradictions of material and function evoke a visceral shiver.  Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za
Meret Oppenheim’s Fur Teacup in MOMA, New York. Photo: Courtesy MOMA
Close up you can see it’s made of toothpicks ( A curatorial nightmare!!) Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za







Yinka Shonibare

At Goodman’s booth, along with many of the other really big names like Kentridge, Bell, Van Den Berg etc, was one of Yinka Shonibare’s sculptures. Do not miss Yinka Shonibare’s exhibition Ruins Dedcorated at Goodman Gallery which closes on 6th  October. It includes an extraordinary installation of over 4,000 books covered in African style textiles with names of various authors who are either African or have written about Africa and aspects of African cultural life.  

The African Library by Yinka Shonibare at Goodman Gallery Parkwood until 6th October Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

In other works on Ruins Decorated,  Shonibare re-imagines Admiral Nelson’s death, drawing on images taken from history paintings but where Nelson is represented in clothes made from African textiles. 

Death of Admiral Nelson by Yinka Shonibare Goodman Gallery 2018 Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

And Shonibare’s  video installation is achingly beautiful, set to sounds of an exquisite rendition of Verdi’s Addio Del Passato.  

Hank Willis Thomas 

And finally there was a series of photographs on show at the Joburg Art Fair by the American artist Hank Willis Thomas, photographs which have proved to be very controversial and have been recalled from sale and removed from the market pending legal proceedings.  There is a lot of debate in the press and social media about these works.  Thomas takes archival photographs shot by famous South African photographers during the struggle years and manipulates them through scale, colour and the technique of retroflective screenprinting.  The effect of this technique is that when viewing Thomas’ photograph with the ‘naked eye’ only part of the subject matter is fully legible (bottom left)  but with flash photography the ‘hazy’ part of the photograph becomes fully legible (bottom right).  Or put another way: the black-and-white compositions are fully revealed only ‘when the viewer shines a light on the work’.  

Hank Willis Thomas’ retroflective screen print photographed by Liz Delmont without flash. (Thomas has manipulated the scale and medium of the original photograph taken by Jan Hummen a photographer for Die Beeld Newspaper. Hummen died in 2004.)
Hank Willis Thomas’ retroflective screen print photographed by Liz Delmont with flash.







One of the many questions raised by the debate around these images, is whether the use of the original photographs amounts to plagiarism or not: ie whether sufficient changes have been made by Thomas in order to justify Thomas’ works being classed as Thomas’ own artistic property. And to what extent in appropriating from another’s work does the artist need to acknowledge the original maker?  Thomas however, asks (quoted by Kinsella in Artnet.com): ‘Who has the right to represent the historic document of a public event and in what way?’  While in some of the works, Thomas’ has taken a single photograph by a South African photographer and in others Thomas has montaged two historical photographs into a single work. 

Hank Willis Thomas’ retroflective screen print photographed by Liz Delmont without flash. (Thomas has manipulated the scale and medium of the original photograph taken by Peter Magubane.)
Hank Willis Thomas’ retroflective screenprint  photographed by Liz Delmont with flash.








It seems that this case if it goes to court, might set a very important legal precedent around issues of appropriation, plagiarism and acknowledgement and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.   

But to get to the point of this very long blog post. Still time to get to Bronwyn Lace’ exhibition at Everard Read (also showing is Tamlin Blake’s Stealing Beauty). While there you can see Galia Gluckman’s metas (boundaries) across the road at Circa. And Yinka Shonibare at Goodman is a must-see. Plus of course DON’T miss next year’s FNB Joburg Art Fair. It’s a great window on Southern Africa and Africa’s artistic creativity.  






Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

4 thoughts on “FNB Joburg Art Fair 2018

  1. I was reluctant to go to the Art Fair until a friend said I should experience Haroon Gunn-Salie’s installation. I’ve been so disappointed in the past with these art fairs as you tend to see very much what you have seen during the year, but this was great and landed up spending almost the whole day there.

    Read more from Gail Wilson

    Freedom Day

    Today, in 1994, we held our first democratic, post-apartheid elections. We stood together edging forward at a snails pace in long snake-like queues, excited and full of hope for the future. We didn&#8[…]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *