Benoni artist wins top prize at Investec Cape Town Art Fair

Troy Makaza.

The Africa First Collection tries to play a crucial role in promoting and disseminating African contemporary art.

In terms of the luxury of art, Cape Town is one of the fastest-growing places in the world where people are engaging with art.

Last weekend, about 18 000 people visited the Investec Cape Town Art Fair where African art, as well as its global counterparts, took centre stage.

Benoni-born artist Mongezi Ncaphayi from Smac Gallery in Stellenbosch scooped the Africa First art prize during the fair. The prize was founded by Serge Tiroche last year as a collection and platform to support and promote contemporary art from the continent.

Following seven years of running the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, he decided to focus his private collecting and residency programme on emerging and mid-career artists from Africa and the African diaspora.

The Africa First Collection tries to play a crucial role in promoting and disseminating African contemporary art by actively promoting the collection and the individual artists through a widespread lending programme, sponsored exhibitions, a fine-art residency programme, publications, digital presence and institutional collaborations around the world.

Ncaphayi will have a two-month all-inclusive residency in Israel to start off with. Work produced will be shipped to Cape Town for the 2020 fair, where it will be exhibited in the fair’s VIP lounge next year.

An increasingly large contingent within the Investec Cape Town Art Fair is made up of prominent galleries from around the globe. These galleries are well established, representing exciting, well-known and emerging artists with a presence in museums, biennials and in important private collections around the world.

International galleries that returned to the fair this year included Perrotin (Paris), Galleria Minini (Brescia), Galerie Cecile Fakhoury (Abidjan), Galleria Continua (San Gimignano), Circle Art Gallery (Nairobi), Officine dell’Immagine (Milan), Gregor Podnar (Berlin), First Floor Gallery (Harare), Tyburn Gallery (London), October Gallery (London), Galleria Giovanni Bonelli (Milan), Addis Fine Art (Addis Ababa), Afriart Gallery (Kampala), Artco Gallery (Aachen), Caroline Smulders (Paris), This is not a White Cube (Luanda), Sulger-Buel Lovell (London), Galerie Pascal Janssens (Ghent), Art First (London), This is no Fantasy (Melbourne) and Matter Gallery (Toronto).

The global scale means this can become a breakthrough platform for artists on the continent. Zimbabwean Troy Makaza walked away with the Today/Tomorrow prize at the fair.

It is supported by Fondazione Fiera Milano and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocaa) and is awarded to the most exciting artistic presentation within the section.

Today/Tomorrow was curated by Tumelo Mosaka and includes emerging and underrepresented artists.

Makaza will have a solo exhibition at the museum, as well as winning a cash prize.

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