At the eighth edition of Investec Cape Town Art Fair which ended last weekend, there were several sections and themed presentations of contemporary art from around the world. One of the exciting, and perhaps crucial, sections was the specially curated exhibition titled “Tomorrows/Today” focusing on emerging and sometimes under-represented artists. The presentation featured artists working in Africa and beyond, displaying unconventional art forms addressing current socio-political issues.
Curated by Nkule Mabaso (Head Curator, Michaelis Galleries, South Africa) and Luisi Fassi (Artistic Director, MAN-Contemporary Art Museum, Italy), the exhibition sheds light on artists who show significant growth in their careers and with the promise of becoming tomorrow’s leading voices.
“The section focuses on emerging artists. While that generally refers to young artists that are newly signed to galleries and who are not well established in their careers, we stretched the term to consider that they may not be well-known in South Africa.”
The artists featured in this section are Danica Lundy, Amanda Mushate, François-Xavier Gbré, Andy Robert, Fathi Hassan, Ernesto Shikhani, Nnenna Okore, Gregory Olympio, Bonolo Kavula and Isabelle Grobler. They are represented by the following galleries respectively: Gallery C+N Canepaneri in Italy, First Floor Gallery in Zimbabwe, Gallery Cecile Fakhoury in Paris, Hannah Hoffman in Los Angeles, Gallery Lawry Shabibi in Dubai, Perve Galeria in Portugal, Gallery Sakhile&Me in Germany, Septieme Gallery in Paris, Suburbia Contemporary in Spain and Sulger-Buel Gallery in the UK.
The curatorial agenda involved seeking artists and artworks that speak directly to African art practices, or what it means to be an artist of African descent working outside of the continent, today. Mabasso states, “The section focuses on emerging artists. While that generally refers to young artists that are newly signed to galleries and who are not well established in their careers, we stretched the term to consider that they may not be well-known in South Africa.”
The ambition of the curators was to offer visitors to the fair an in-depth and more elaborate understanding of African identity and African art at large. Several galleries supporting the artists are not from Africa too. They are mostly from the US, UAE and UK. “We have crafted the section to interpret the idea of African identity in a more complex way than just the biography of being born in Africa, or living in Africa, or based here. So, we have involved artists that share some clear connections to African culture, even if you are not necessarily ‘100 per cent African’, or based there,” remarked Fassi, co-curator of the exhibition.
“Tomorrows/Today” section included a prize presentation which was given to Andy Robert from the United States. The prize was juried by Josh Ginsburg, Director of A4 Foundation, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, curator of the Ghana pavilion Venice Biennale 2019, and artist, Bongi dhlomo-Mautloa.
Robert’s work draws on the literature and histories of the diaspora and civil rights campaigns. They are consistently mapped into his work and reflects in his experiences as an artist from Haiti living in the US.