People love lists. Rankings, status and all that shit. The best young (though they are in their forties) African artists to watch blah, blah, blah. In my new capacity as an art consultant I am trying to give the people what they want. I will write the nuanced piece scrutinising the fair in a few days but for now this is what I am liking. It will probably change when I really get into the writing and I realise these selections were completely superficially driven or coincided with a nice conversation with someone next to the artwork in question and I confused that feel-good feeling with the work in closet proximity.
Number 1: Candice Breitz Her (NOT HIM)
I need to be super clear on this: I like Her and not Him. Him did not do it for me, I didn't really feel Breitz got into the male psyche and all its trappings - or are men really less complicated or are free from strife? Or is it possible that cinema does not really ever expose men? Maybe these are questions she hoped to pose. Or maybe she didn't pay close enough attention to men... Her is radical; a saw a number of women leave the booth in tears. Via Streep Breitz penetrated to the core issues that plague women; their reliance on men to establish their identity. It hurt to watch. It was the only work at the fair that "moved" me to tears so had to top the list. She is a clever one that Breitz.
Number 2: Johann Van der Schiff @Gallery AOP
It was only on my third visit to the stand that I noticed these beech wood sculptures of security cameras. A must for every Joburg home.
Number 3: Barend de Wet @ Smac Gallery
De Wet is catering for all those visitors to the fair who exclaim that "I could have done that at home!" Too clever. I checked inside the box and it is not an empty conceptualist statement, there are pieces neatly packaged etc. But at R25 000 a box I would want Barend to come and assemble it for me wearing a pink crotchet outfit.
Number 4: Serge Alain Nitegeka @Stevenson
In no work at the fair do the languages of art and design collapse into each other as poignantly and beautifully as they do in this object. The minamalist/modernist/craft/art/hipster aesthetic that it encapsulates so effortlessly makes my art heart sing.
Number 5: Kyle Morland @Blank Projects
What a wonderful gesture for an art fair; it's art - that obsession with the mark - pared down to its barest state. So simple, so understated, but also consumable; a hanging sculpture.
Number 6: Rael Jero Salley @Gallery Momo
Salley's collection of portraits at Gallery Momo were/are strong. I have known him in an academic capacity and through his interest in black portraiture and study of subjectivity, so this was a really, really nice surprise that made sense to me.
Number 7: MJ Turpin @ Kalashnikovv
This is real DIY found-material art. With the neon triangle and terracotta garden decor item plus animal horn I was finished. To me this work sums up where we are, what art is, the fair is even in so many ways - it's just a mashup of symbols and aesthetics literally chained together. I think its the transparency of it that attracts me to it. Pull it together, make it work and sell it. Just do it!