Finding magic in the (he)art of Cape Town

Posted by Anita Froneman on 15 September 2021

By Lorraine Kearney

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” said Pablo Picasso. And this season Cape Town is flooded with art. It’s spring, and our feet are itchy with Heritage Month and Tourism Month in September – the triptych of reasons for a quick break in the Mother City.

What to see

The galleries are offering a smorgasbord of options, from sculpture to furniture, from photography to painting. Expect performance art and even design lectures and music talks. And animation and comics, too.

The Norval Foundation

Alt and Omega: Jackson Hlungwani runs until 10 January. His carvings are a visual integration of the Old and New Testaments with aspects of his Tsonga-Shangaan heritage and global influences. The exhibition is a message of hope – much needed in these challenging times.

The Reunion by Georgina Gratrix runs until 18 October while ‘I have made a place’, a group exhibition of painting, installation and video by modern and contemporary South African artists, runs until 27 September.

Coming up is Congress: The Social Body in Three Figurative Painters, running from 2 October to 10 January 2022. It features the work of Trevor Makhoba (1956–2003), George Pemba (1912–2001) and Sithembiso Sibisi (1976–2006).

For bookish types, the Norval’s Atrium is given over to the Cape Town Art Book Fair from 24-26 September. It is the second time the fair is being held, featuring galleries, writers, publishers, artists and independent book-sellers – snap up art books, magazines and zines. There is also a talks programme with writers, curators and artists. #CTABF21 norvalfoundation.org

Southern Guild

Rich Mnisi’s show, Nyoka, runs at Southern Guild from 2 October to 4 February 2022. It’s his first solo exhibition of collectible furniture, comprising seating, a console, chandelier, rug and other objects. The collection ‘is a bold exploration of shape and fluidity, brought vividly to life in a rich array of materials including bronze, wool, resin and glass’, says the gallery. southernguild.co.za

Spier Arts Trust

Emma Willemse is the artist at Union House, with her exhibition Disrupt running until 29 September. Willemse is a conceptual artist from Riebeek Kasteel in the Swartland, place of rolling fields of wheat. Her art deals with displacement, place-making and sense of place.

On 29 September, listen to Displaced, a live performance by composer Michael Blake, at Disrupt. It’s on from 6pm. Blake is inspired by Willemse’s artist’s books and mixed media works, which will be on show at the same time. @spierartstrust

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art

A trip to Cape Town is not complete without a visit to the Zeitz, a landmark at the V&A Waterfront and a paean to architectural design.

Kassaram runs until 17 October; it’s an open studio investigation by Thania Petersen as part of Zeitz’s Atelier Residency programme. Petersen is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses photography, performance and installation to unpack her identity in contemporary South Africa. zeitzmocaa.museum

Irma Stern Museum

Drawing on a selection of the African sculptures collected by Irma Stern, the exhibition Ngady a Mwaash, named after the primordial female ancestor of the baKongo, reflects on the role, status, perception and symbolism of women in Congolese art and society. Three paintings by Irma Stern of Congolese and Rwandese women are also on show, until 30 October. Visits are by appointment only. irmasternmuseum.co.za

Galleries

There are myriad galleries featuring extraordinary artists in Cape Town, here are just a few:

At the Goodman Gallery, Distant Visions: Postcards from Africa runs until 18 September. ‘[Sue] Williamson’s new series of drawings, Postcards from Africa, continues the artist’s interest in the power of a small printed image to carry news of a specific moment in time to a far off audience,’ says the gallery.

Also running until 18 September, Shirin Neshat’s first solo exhibition in Cape Town brings together a video installation, Sarah, a photographic still from Roja and Offerings to explore the interior life of women. www.goodman-gallery.com

At Everard Read, Angus Taylor: Quarried Consciousness is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, and it also marks the launch of his monograph, Mind Through Materials. The latter explores both his practice and philosophy. It runs until 30 September. everard-read-capetown.co.za

What if the World is home to Nature’s Code, a solo exhibition of collage and installation by Lyndi Sales until 16 October and In The End, Michael Taylor’s new solo exhibition until 9 October. whatiftheworld.com

And if you are keen for a day in the country, just 90 minutes outside Cape Town lies the historic town of Tulbagh, where 40 Under 40 is on show from 25 September to 28 February at Twee Jonge Gezellen Estate, home of Krone Cap Classique. It’s billed as an ‘intriguing and provocative presentation of 60 diverse works from 40 young artists – all of whom are under the age of 40′.

There are guided public walkabouts and artists’ activations on 25 September and 2 October. Book for the walkabouts. whatiftheworld.com/krone and kronecapclassique.co.za/pages/krone-x-witw-gallery

Other happenings

At its newly opened marketplace in Salt River, Cultivate presents its Heritage Month festival until 30 September. There is a whole programme of things to do, from wine tasting to music to interesting talks, such as wine tasting with Tania Kleintjes, the organic winemaker at Spier on 15 September; on the following day, Lungiswa Plaatjies gives a live performance of African music played on indigenous instruments. And on 22 September, African Bush Camps founder Beks Ndlovu talks about natural heritage and exploring southern Africa. cultivatecollective.co.za

The #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL runs from 20-23 September. It is billed as a hybrid event with small in-person gatherings and site tours. #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL examines the power of design to tackle current socio-economic and environmental challenges within an African context. Tickets on Quicket https://qkt.io/5yOslM

The Cape Town International Animation Festival runs from 1-3 October at the Old Biscuit Mill in Salt River. Expect a hybrid programme of screenings, talks, workshops and more. The Comic Con Cape Town pop-up is also at the festival on 2 October; activities include cosplay competitions, Comic Art Drink & Draw & Sketch-off competitions and Pop Culture Quiz Sessions. www.ctiaf.com

Where to stay

After so much arting, you’ll need somewhere to lay your happy head. We’ve got a few options:

The Halyard takes the view and amps it up from its floor-to-ceiling windows at the top of an iconic Foreshore building. The self-catering luxury apartments have all the mod-cons for a short term stay. It’s all sleek, nifty and technologically smart. The apartments come in one-, two-and three-bedroom configurations with automation systems, contemporary furnishings, a full complement of modern conveniences, as well as wrap-around balconies. All the better to enjoy those views. [email protected] and @halyardapartments

Coco-Mat has two lofts in the historic Bo-Kaap, featuring wide-open spaces fringed by the mountain and overlooking the bustle of the city bowl. Great care and attention to detail is paid. Best of all, you get to sleep in the sublime Coco-Mat top-end bed – it’s all-natural and hand-crafted. Email [email protected] for reservations.

From 1 October, stay at the quirky Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel on Long Street. It is all about design and luxury with an option of boutique hotel rooms or rooftop airstream trailers, each decorated in its own unique style. granddaddy.co.za

Steenberg

A more serene stay than Steenberg Hotel and Spa is hard to find – and it is right next door to the Norval. The hotel cleverly balances historical and contemporary – it has 17th-century roots. Take a stroll or cycle through the vineyards and beautiful gardens while you’re there. And you can squeeze a wine tasting into your packed schedule. steenbergfarm.com

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