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Investec Cape Town Art Fair feels the absence of collectors

In the run-up to the opening of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair (ICTAF, 18-20 February), local dealers were anxious. Would European collectors attend?

The fair, established in 2013, started as a casual summer event geared for locals—visitors often sported shorts and sandals. However, once it was acquired by the Italian events company, Fiera Milano, in 2016, it quickly became a more international fair that brought Italian galleries and collectors to South Africa’s shores. In 2020, some local art dealers reported that all of their sales at the fair were to international collectors.

With South Africa currently on a red travel status in Italy, Italian collectors—and galleries—were very thin on the ground at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), where the fair has been annually held since Fiero Milano took control.

In 2020, 13 galleries from Italy (and six from Belgium) participated in the fair, while this year only three stands represented Italy, with one from Belgium.

However, the pandemic might not be the primary reason for this. As Africa’s largest art fair, with galleries from Angola, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, showing alongside South African galleries, few collectors arrive here looking to buy European art, which many of the Italian galleries were offering. This year, the Italian galleries that did return were those that featured or focused on South African artists such as the Milan-based Osart, with a stand dedicated to works by Katharien De Villiers.

Reminiscent of pre-Covid times, the vernissage on the Thursday evening (17 February) was packed, and the organisers say 23,000 visitors came in total, up from 22,000 in 2020. However, there were fewer exhibitors—around 70, compared to 100 in 2020.

Read the full story in The Art Newspaper



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