All The Reasons Why We Loved The New FNB Art Joburg

We appreciated all the changes at FNB Art Joburg this year, from more room to dream and appreciate monumental artworks, to its new leadership.


FNB Art Joburg | House and Leisure

FNB Art Joburg, which was previously known as FNB Joburg Art Fair, recently unveiled its first edition under new ownership, ushering in a wave of changes that completely shifted the way audiences got to experience the annual event.

Under the fair’s new ownership, spearheaded by art entrepreneur Mandla Sibeko, audiences will have noticed that there were fewer galleries participating, but a lot more space to appreciate their offerings – in what turned out to be one of our favourite takeaways from the new FNB Art Joburg.

ALSO READ: Visit Mary Sibande's Exhibit At FNB Art Joburg

In a recent column Sibeko explains the importance of the new 100% black ownership of South Africa’s most prestigious fair: ‘I intend for FNB Art Joburg to be a platform that celebrates and champions local artists, from their formation and expansion phases to consolidation phases,' he writes. 'I am heartened every time I see black talent making an impact on the world stage, and fairs help create further channels to this end.’

Here are a few of the things we loved at this year’s FNB Art Joburg, and some moments we won’t soon forget.

HL's FNB Joburg Art Fair 2019 Highlights

1. There Was More Space To Appreciate Monumental Art

FNB Art Joburg | House and Leisure
Abiah Mahlase stands in front of Jody Paulsen's 'I Do Feel Pretty' at the Max Pavilion at FNB Art Joburg.

The upside of having fewer galleries present at this year's event was the extra space at the fair, which allowed galleries to present larger works, and gave audiences the space to appreciate their scale fully.

We especially relished the opportunity to experience monumental works in the MAX Pavilion of the fair, including Brett Murray’s giant 'Fundamentalists', Jody Paulson’s 'I Do Feel Pretty' and Athi Patra-Ruga’s 'Proposed Model of Francois Feral Benga'.

ALSO READ: Ferial Haffajee Reviews Brett Murray's Hide
FNB Art Joburg | House and Leisure
Brett Murray's giant 'Fundamentalists'.

2. The Gallery Lab Experiment Worked

FNB Art Joburg | House and Leisure

We loved the salon-style space created by Banele Khoza of BKhz studio and gallery and FNB Art Joburg fair manager Nicole Siegenthaler.

The space, which featured some fantastic furniture by young South African designers, brought a sense of fun and experimentation to the sometimes-staid art fair environment, which audiences relished, and engaged with.

The ‘Thanks Xenophobia’ statement on one wall of the space – where Nigerian galleries were due to present work – but weren’t able to due to xenophobic violence taking place outside the fair’s walls at the time, also brought a powerful message into the space. 

3. We Drank Really Good Wine

FNB Art Joburg | House and Leisure

At House and Leisure we do love a fine glass of vino, but it’s not very often that we can get our hands on the good stuff at events.

Which is why we were beyond thrilled to sip on some of the country’s most delicious boutique offerings at the pop-up wine bars run by Publik Bar for FNB Art Joburg. 

ALSO READ: Publik Wine Makes A Splash In Joburg

4. Bronwyn Katz Won The FNB Art Prize

FNB Art Joburg | House and Leisure
Artist and FNB Art Prize 2019 winner Bronwyn Katz.

Every year we look forward to who wins the annual FNB Art Prize, and we couldn't be more thrilled that this year's award went to the incredible Bronwyn Katz.

The artist's work, and her ingenious representations of the land debate in Southern Africa, has kept us captivated as it progresses, and we couldn't think of anyone more deserving of the prize. She's going to be one to watch, so make sure you check out her work and follow her progress. 

5. Houtlander’s Soaring Preservation Bench

houtlander, preservation bench, fnb art joburg

One of the most surprising and spectacular moments at the fair was the inclusion of Houtlander’s breathtaking Preservation bench.

First seen at 100% Design earlier this year, the ambitious creation sees one of House and Leisure’s favourite local furniture makers turn one of their award-winning benches into a towering spiral.

We couldn’t be happier that furniture makers are being afforded the same space as sculptors – a long-overdue first step to crossing the boundaries from the art world. 

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