In the past six years Gauteng has adopted and taken to heart the RMB Turbine Art Fair in Newtown’s cultural precinct. This year running from July 12 to 15, it again bubbles with innovation and artists from across the land trying to make their mark. DIANE DE BEER speaks to a Pretoria gallerist in this, her second fair, about her latest find. And gives some Fair guidelines:
For Ronel van der Vyver reopening her Millenium Gallery in Groenkloof returned her to a space she needed to be. It was time-out for a few years but she’s back with a bang and last year’s Turbine Art Fair was proof of that. “It felt as if I was back in business,” is how this art lover describes this coming home.
It is especially the Fair’s mission statement – that it offers an opportunity to view and buy quality artwork from emerging and established talent in a fun and accessible way, with all pieces for sale priced below R50 000.00 – that appealed to her. That implies a specific market and one where she’s happy to play. It allows some of her established artists to sell work in a specific class while it is also a great time to introduce and push new and younger talent.
She felt that even though last year was her first excursion into this market, she hit the mark with her selection including work by the late Braam Kruger. This year she’s excited by a new young artist she has just exhibited in her Groenkloof gallery, Odette Graskie.
This exciting young artist is a studio artist at End Street Studios in Joburg with a degree from the University of Pretoria where her most influential lecturer was Nicola Grobler, who is known for her interactive artworks. Part of the appeal for Van der Vyver was her own affinity to installation and sculpture and what she loves about Graskie’s work is the playfulness.
She explains her most recent exhibition and work that will be shown at the Fair titled Human Noise, as textile artworks that play with the idea of anthropomorphism as a tool to create an emotive response from those who encounter the work. “The figures,” she explains, “are presented in an attempt to anthromorphise emotion, identifying humanity in a psychological sense.”
Her title was inspired by a Raymond Carver quote: I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one moving, not even when the room went dark. “I want to confront viewers with uncertainty,” she says. Her figures are suspended with string and displayed in what she describes as a “gymnastics of form”, and despite their not being alive – obviously – even if the viewer rejects interacting, they force certain issues. “The shapes aren’t all inspired by humans, but by shadows and trees passed by on a dark night or waving in the wind in a strange and magical way,” she notes.
Underpinning these shapes and forms are her drawings which also experiment with her need to dot and detail encounters with others – from strangers in the street to her closest relationships. “Working with such drawings enhances my experience of a moment with someone,” she explains. But she also explores sewing as an artform or rather, as drawing, which she views it to be. “Line is the most crucial factor in my process,” she says.
Enhancing this work which will probably dominate the Millenium stand because of its playful presence perfect for this kind of fair, Van der Vyver also features paper work by Norman Catherine, some brilliant pieces by the Danish based South African artist Doris Bloom and sculpture by Zelda Stroud.
Other highlights at the RMB Turbine Art Fair:
* Throughout the weekend, the RMB Private Bank Talks Programme has walkabouts with celebrities, art professionals and well-known artists including magazine editors, art advisors, curators, #instagrammers, major collectors and successful artists talk about their journeys. These free walkabouts also include age appropriate options aimed at helping children understand art and sharing a vocabulary that equips them to appreciate and describe it.
* An exhibition featuring a selection of Irma Stern still lifes from private collections titled Is there Still Life? The Work of Irma Stern will be presented by Strauss & Co. A competition among scholars at tertiary art schools in Gauteng has also been created for artists to submit a still life in a medium of their choice and a selection of the best works will be exhibited alongside the Stern showcase.
* Installations have always been an exciting part of the Fair. Curator, Tamzin Lovell-Miller asks the question “Who are we after this “Post-Truth” time has shaped us?” She pulls together artworks that range from the finely crafted to the augmented virtual, and the interactive physical and digital hoping to inspire and encourage extraordinary new ideas.
* The Graduate Exhibition returns for a 4th year and is specially curated. It features some of the best post-graduate paintings and in 2018 the inclusion of photography from university arts departments across South Africa. The exhibition is curated by Musa N. Nxumalo.
* This landscape. This landscape! The Quintessential Metaphor For Life by David Koloane in collaboration with LL Editions and curated by Ruzy Rusik to celebrate 80 years of artist David Koloane.
* RMB Talent Unlocked has funded a six-month intensive workshop programme for emerging artists, that integrates practical art-making (focusing on process and conceptual development) and professional practice training in collaboration with Assemblage and VANSA. This exhibition of emerging artists is curated by Fulufhelo Mobadi.
VIP COCKTAIL PREVIEW: Thursday 12 July 6 to 9pm: R800 per person. Online bookings only, no tickets will be sold at the door. Canapés and drinks are included in the ticket price.
Friday 13 July 11am to 8pm; Saturday 14 July 10am to 6pm; Sunday 15 July 10am to 5pm.
Tickets: (via Webtickets): ADULTS: R100 online / R120 at the door; R200 online/R250 at the door Weekend pass (Fri, Sat and Sun)
CHILDREN: R50 online U12 /R80 door; R80 online over 12/R100 door
STUDENTS: R80 online/R100 at the door
For safety and convenience, it will be a completely cashless environment.
For more info or to buy tickets: www.turbineartfair.co.za