HL chatted to Ross Douglas, the director of Artlogic, the company behind the annual FNB Joburg Art Fair about what to expect at this year’s event and the importance and significance of contemporary African art.
What is the significance of the FNB Joburg Art Fair on a global scale?
It is the first, biggest and oldest art fair in Africa and the first, biggest and oldest art fair in the world to focus on contemporary art from Africa. Another important element of the fair is that it is creating a local market for African contemporary art, which is helping the sustainability of the art industry on the continent.
The Fair focuses on celebrating art from across the continent. What do you believe is the most important aspect of supporting African art?
There are many aspects to supporting art from the continent. One of the key aspects is to create a market in order to make art from Africa sustainable. We do this in a number of ways. We bring local and international buyers to the Fair, we have Special Projects to introduce and inform our audience about specific artist’s works and we raise money for artists to make interesting work that we show at the Fair and sometimes send abroad.
The 2013 Art Fair is focusing on photography. What is the importance of showcasing both local and international photographers this year specifically?
We decided to give each year a theme and as photography is such a strong art medium in Africa we thought that would be a good place to start.
How are galleries chosen to exhibit at the fair?
Galleries apply and then Artlogic, sometimes with the advice of outsiders, choose the best galleries on the strength of their artists and applications.
The FNB Art Prize will also be announced and awarded at the Fair. What were you looking for this year and how does this year’s winner embody those qualities?
The art prize is judged on a number of criteria including what the show will look like at the Fair. This year’s winner is the collaboration between Mocke J Van Veuren and Nelisiwe Xaba. I think the work is superb and will work very well inside the Fair. This year’s guest judges were Elvira Dyangani Ose, international curator at Tate Modern and Professor Federico Freschi, Dean of FADA at UJ.
What would you suggest first time visitors and young collectors focus on at this year’s event?
The Fair has the work of more or less 400 artists, so it can be quite overwhelming for first time collectors. My advice is to take your time and try and build a relationship with a gallerist that shows the type of work you identify with and can afford. The Talks programme inside the Fair is probably the best place to learn about art without having to go back to university.
For more information about what to expect at this year’s FNB Joburg Art Fair, click here.
Interviewed by Lindi Brownell Meiring