South African art scene set for 2010

21 May 2010

Art and football may not seem the most obvious of bedfellows, but with a huge influx of tourists set to descend on the cities of South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the galleries around the country are preparing to show off the country’s inherent artistic talent.

“The 2010 Fifa World Cup offers a unique opportunity to showcase South African artists,” says Jacques Michau, curator at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. “Our artists will have the world here, and it’s the perfect opportunity for them to expose themselves.”

A View from the South

The Everard Read Gallery exhibition A View from the South is a collection of pieces from some of South Africa’s best artists, a cross-section of both old and new pieces.

“What we thought is that instead of having a specific artist exhibiting, we would invite our stable of artists to produce one or two works that really push the envelope, so that we could show off our talent and what South African artists are doing,” Michau said.

During the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup the gallery saw a marked increase in visitors, Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson among them.

“There were more feet coming through the gallery, and this is what we are expecting from the World Cup. In Johannesburg, as far as tourist destinations go, it’s not a hive of activity on the same level as Cape Town or Durban, so I think people do tend to come to the galleries.”

With the global community focusing its attention on South Africa ahead of the World Cup, galleries like the Everard Read have noticed a growing interest from international clients. “There have been more inquiries about our artists, a growing interest in what is going on in the South African art scene.”

Fifa 2010 Official Art Poster collection

Another major player in the South African gallery scene is David Krut Projects. The company comprises a collection of gallery spaces, workshops and bookstores dedicated to highlighting contemporary South African art and design.

“We are fortunate to have a range of spaces in various locations in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, where we will be exhibiting the Fifa 2010 Official Art Poster Edition as well as a selection of prints and paintings,” says Taryn Hackett, gallery manager at David Krut Projects in Johannesburg.

“We are hoping for an increase in foot traffic through our gallery during the World Cup,” Hackett says. “We want to be able show an international audience the inherent creative talent in South Africa. We have chosen to exhibit works which reflect a wide range of subject matter, techniques and mediums, by both established and upcoming South African artists.”

David Krut Projects have been involved in retailing the Fifa 2010 Official Art Poster collection. The posters are prints of specific art pieces commissioned for the World Cup. Out of the 17 artists who produced work for the poster collection, 12 are originally African, with seven of the artists from South Africa.

“The reception to the posters has been fantastic in that, by combining the visual arts with the global popularity of football, the project has sparked an interest that has resonated with a much wider audience,” says Hackett.

Exposure gallery

The Exposure gallery in Cape Town is a predominantly photographic concept space that prides itself in being a platform for cutting edge photographic artists and photographic concepts.

“We have been showcasing South African photographers for the last three years and will be showcasing as many local photographers as possible over the World Cup period,” says Fernando Badiali, owner of the Exposure Gallery. “We also be exhibiting a number of photographic books based around football.”

One of these books is AMEN, a 208-page photo-essay by Jessica Hilltout focussing on grassroots football across Africa. “The piece I feel that best encapsulates the spirit of the World Cup is the local flavour of this book,” said Badiali.

Aside from the tourists who will be enjoying the rare experience of seeing much of this art for the first time, the World Cup also presents an opportunity for the country’s creative community to get behind the tournament.

“Our artists are excited; South Africa is excited – you can feel it,” says Michau.

Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee