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Top 10: FNB Joburg Art Fair

My in-depth review of the fair is in the pipeline. In the meantime here are 10 artworks/stands or moments that turned my cynical head during the three day art extravaganza.


Favourite 20th C Historical Moment: George Pemba's studio recreated by Gallery Momo. The one and only stand that was immersive and some kind of creativity was applied in the display. Had not seen some of these works in person, so it was a thrilling experience.

Favourite Textile work: I am sure Whatiftheworld and Blank Projects will be circling Georgina Maxim from Village Unhu's stand. This Zimbabwean stand had some interesting textile/fashion/art work. It's refreshing to see new abstract textile work that remains connected to the 'body'.

Favourite and only quirky pottery artist at the fair: Thank you Lucinda Mudge for all her naughty pottery at Everard Read's stand

Favourite Feminist artwork: Francis Goodman has been making sculptural works from artificial nails for yonks so I should not have been surprised or impressed. Nevertheless, seeing a trio of Georgia O'Keefe like red flowers protruding from Smac's stand made me feel happy. It made me think of this artificial notion that flowers represent the feminine; pretty and delicate I think not. These are tough, long-lasting nails.

Favourite Abstract work: There is nothing to explain here; it's abstract art. Unathi Mkonto has been making work on the periphery, nice to see something of his front and centre that I liked and possibly wanted. A Smith Gallery work.

Favourite non-commercial artwork: Haunting black tower created by Clive Van den Berg for Goodman Gallery special project stand. It commemorates the deaths of homosexual men at the hands of ISIS. The story behind it is heavy. It may be too literally translated but in a fair where there was a glaring absence of large-scale works and those delving into serious issues, it stood out.

Favourite painting: This is probably so very last season but for some reason I just have a thing for Wycliff Mundope's mangled-mush of female bodies and prints. Zimbabwean artists are coming up strong in my list. This was shown at First Floor Gallery Harare's stand.

Favourite sociopolitical statement piece: Michael MacGarry downloaded and printed this letter from Lonmin's website and stuck it to a slab of concrete in which an AK47 was embedded. Sometimes you don't have to overthink what you make.

Favourite found object work: Another Zimbabwean artist on my top 10. Tawanda Takura's Warthog. Also from Village Unhu's stand. Loose, untidy, animal-meets human, survivalist, fashion, feminine, tactile, violent. Highly evocative work, I thought.

Other favourite painting: Wayne Barker's New Normal at Everard Read had me thinking about the absence of art dealing with Penny Sparrow and all the other stuff going on in our country about race that is not being articulated at the art fair. Why is there such a gap between life and art?

Favourite Video Work: Ed Young's Little at Smac Gallery stand. The victim and bully fight it out at Company Gardens. This was so disturbing. More interesting than watching it, was watching other people watch it; their expressions...


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