The annual FNB Joburg Art
Camo Division Of Labour Part 1, 2017, by Troy Makaza. Courtesy of First Floor Gallery Harare
(Image credit: Troy Makaza)

The 11th instalment of the annual FNB Joburg Art Fair makes a return to Sandton Convention Centre from 7-9 September, offering a diverse spread of contemporary art and design, exhibitions and initiatives. The fair provides a platform for artists, galleries, makers, thinkers and art enthusiasts from Africa and its diaspora to congregate and celebrate creative culture; ‘by the continent, for the continent.

David Krut Projects, Johannesburg
With galleries in Johannesburg, Cape Town and New York, David Krut Projects encourages an ‘awareness of arts careers, related media and contemporary culture’. Their print workshop and bookstore were the first art establishments on what is now Joburg’s eponymous Art Strip. Ethiopian Aida Muluneh will be this year’s profiled artist under the fair’s Limited Edition umbrella, showing her intensely vivid photographs which bring together geometrical jolts, body painting and garish blocks of colour. New work for the Memories in Development and Water Life series was created in Dallol, Ethiopia, a remote region below sea level with treacherous average temperatures of 50ºC, requiring exceptional physical endurance on the artist’s part. The project sprang from Water Aid UK’s ongoing quest to provide water and hygiene facilities in Africa, with a particular focus on the needs of women, an initiative the artist has been involved with for some time.

A women with face painting and black & white stipe background

Courtesy of David Krut Projects

(Image credit: Aida Muluneh)

Lest We Remember, 2017, by Aida Muluneh.

Addis Fine Art, Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s first local art platform, Addis Fine Art is located on the Horn of the African Peninsula, in Addis Ababa. It operates internationally, with an additional project space in Central London. It has sparked new interest in a previously overlooked region of Ethiopia, and is rapidly evolving into one of the most prominent galleries on the continent. This year, Addis will present Joburg Floating Tower by artist Addis Gezehagn, a new piece based on the deconstructed anatomy of Johannesburg’s Vodacom building. Local artist Merikokeb Berhanu taps into the physical structures of Addis Ababa, channelling Ethiopia’s rich and deeply rooted painting traditions. She will present a painted cluster of life bearing organic forms, including seed pods, embryos, fallopian tubes and pulsating cells, all cast against a complex network of gaunt, slumped female figures. Emerging photographer and fashion designer, Eyerusalem Jirenga will display a selection of vivid portraits capturing everyday street scenes. Through a language of voluminous African dress and striking colour fields, each figure is in motion, assuming a fictional role indifferent to the viewer’s gaze. 

Movart, Luanda
Originally conceived as a ‘pop-up’ gallery, Mov’Art has served as an interlocutor for contemporary art in Angola since 2014, seeking to defy stereotypes and illuminate a facet of Angolan culture little known to the rest of the world. In early 2017, following 16 successful mobile exhibitions, the gallery unveiled its first permanent space in Luanda. Mov’art will present a trio of distinctive artists at this year’s fair, Rene Tavares, Mário Macilau and Toy Boy, each grappling with themes of socio-political unrest. Through a series of ‘unfinished’ gestural dashes, lines and blotches, Tavares’ work comments on his personal experience of displacement within Africa’s post-colonial contact zones. Maputo-born Macilau immerses himself in the living and working conditions of marginalised social groups. He became a full-time photographer in 2007 after exchanging his mother’s mobile phone for a camera and has since exhibited his long-form photographic projects internationally. Toy Boy’s paintings, photography and installations are fuelled by a childhood spent at the heart of Angola’s civil war. They document historical urbanisation, tense division and the state’s contradiction with civilian interests.

Two Boys With Fish, 2018, by Mário Macilau

(Image credit: Mário Macilau)

Two Boys With Fish, 2018, by Mário Macilau

First Floor Gallery, Harare
During her first visit to Zimbabwe in 2009, First Floor’s founder Valerie Kabov recognised the urgent need for an accessible, experimental and educational space for emerging local artists. With support from Marcus Gora, now the the gallery’s marketing director, the team transformed a room in downtown Harare adjoining a tailors’ workshop into a fully-fledged gallery. Their main booth will host brand new paintings from Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude and Helen Teede, completed as part of their Africa First residency with the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, Israel. Nyaude’s figurative work reflects a cynicism derived from the tumults of Mbare, Harare’s most notorious ghetto. Teede’s paintings reflect a love of the African land and a consciousness of racial division. The gallery will also show new dystopic sculptures by Julio Rizhi, made of repurposed plastic and referring to environmental decay.

Creative black and white painting.

(Image credit: Julio Rizhi)

Night and Day, Part 1, 2018, by Julio Rizhi

99 Loop Gallery, Cape Town
99 Loop is a hub for emerging and established talents, priding itself on remaining an approachable, diverse space in the midst of Cape Town’s expanding creative district. At this year’s fair, they will unveil new work by Jeanne Hoffman, Chris Valentine, Anastasia Pather and Richard Mason. Hoffman will show a mix of paintings and ceramic stoneware involving her distinctive ‘mapping gestures’. Valentine’s poignant portraiture blends classical and contemporary painting through the lens of urban culture. Mixed media artist Pather tackles surface, gender and the South African-Indian aesthetic, drawing attention to perceptions of value, exoticism and eroticism in which materials from previously ‘rejected’ paintings are repurposed in new work. Richard Mason presents digital immersion through geometry in his substantial canvases. His primary concern in this new body of work revolves around the notion of ‘physical glitches,’ with cut and sewn canvasses populated with disjointed shapes, unpainted regions and misalignments.

Black and white stripe image

Courtesy of 99 Loop Gallery

(Image credit: Richard Mason)

Touchet, 2018, by Richard Mason. 

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg/Cape Town
Established in Johannesburg in 1966, Goodman was South Africa’s first contemporary art gallery of note, assuming a socially progressive stance even in midst of apartheid Africa. Working with some of the continent’s most significant artists, the gallery continues to nurture social transformation. This year, it assembles a group of artists operating under the common theme of the post-colonial condition. The ‘drawings’ of Gerhard Marx are comprised of decommissioned terrestrial maps collaged and overlaid, tackling raw issues of territory and geographical occupation. A collaborative photographic series by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse documents the pair’s seven-year examination of the iconic and half-abandoned Ponte City apartment complex in Johannesburg. Meanwhile, the gallery’s featured artist, Sue Williamson displays Messages from the Atlantic Passage, a large-scale installation of shackled, suspended glass bottles engraved with profiles of 19th-century victims of slavery. Work from this year’s man of the moment, Haroon Gunn-Salie will be presented alongside new creations from Yinka Shonibare, Kapwani Kiwanga and Hank Willis Thomas.

Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg
Stevenson will celebrate its 15th anniversary at this year’s fair with an examination of the gallery’s role in the much-contested debate of how to be at once devoted to art history and engaged with the market. Their booth will feature new works by both foundational artists and new contributors. Steven Cohen revisits his iconic 2001 piece, Chandelier, with a series of new prints. A sculpture comprising  salvaged school desks by Kemang Wa Lehulere will be on show in South Africa for the first time, and photographer Zanele Muholi will reveal new self-portraits from the acclaimed series Somnyama Ngonyama in addition to work by Nandipha Mntambo, Barthélémy Toguo, Stanley Pinker and Nicholas Hlobo.

A small wooden houses for bird.

Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery

(Image credit: Kemang Wa Lehulere)

My Apologies to Time 1, 2017, by Kemang Wa Lehulere. 

FNB Art Prize
Cape Town-born artist and activist Haroon Gunn-Salie is the recipient of this year’s FNB Art Prize. The experimental installation and ‘intervention’ artist follows a prestigious list of winners including Nolan Oswald Dennis, Portia Zvavahera and Kudzanai Chiurai since the prize was conceived in 2011. Collaborative, site-specific and politically charged, Gunn-Salie’s work is a poignant elegy to systematic oppression, organised protests, state violence and national division. Senzenina – the artist’s harrowing 34-piece installation memorialising miners killed by South African security forces in the 2012 Marikana massacre – will be relived at Sandton Convention Centre in a fully-immersive iteration, enclosed in a dimly lit, acoustically adapted booth.

Red Door Gallery, Lagos
Offering an outlet for artists without social boundaries, Red Door Gallery consistently makes unpredictable additions to their roster because ‘predictable art is neither inspirational nor collectable.’ This year, they will showcase work from last year’s FNB Art Fair prizewinner, Peju Alatise, a Nigerian artist with several novels under her belt and fingers in many creative pies from multimedia sculpture, architecture to creative political activism. Nengi Omuku will explore how humanity shifts, gathers and selects its identity through chromatically vivid and ambiguous portraiture, while Fatai Adewale will blend abstract and warped paintings narrating political history. For poet, painter and social commentator Cyril Oma, it’s all in the eyes; Red Door will showcase his captivating portraits that express the emotional extremities of love, triumph and turmoil. Oma’s work recently piqued the interest of the King of Morocco, who acquired a number of his works during a state visit to Nigeria.

Bobby Goes North, from the Empowered Without Love series, by Cyril Oma

(Image credit: Cyril Oma)

Bobby Goes North, by Cyril Oma, from the Empowered Without Love series


For more information, visit the FNB Joburg Art Fair website

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.