On in the City 23.8.2014 12:00 pm

Annual Joburg Art Fair enjoys successful opening night

The packed aisles during the opening night of the FNB Joburg Art Fair on Thursday night suggested this whole “recession” lark has been blown out of proportion.

Sure, it was mostly the well-heeled who were wandering through the exhibits, sipping on glasses of wine or beer, but the Sandton Convention Centre hall is a large space and to have as many enthusiasts as were there gathering to comment on the collected works suggests that the arts buyers’ market is in rude health.

It was necessary to remain alert as you walked around the fair – not only to ensure that you didn’t miss any of the highlights but to guarantee you didn’t step on the occasional creation that was placed on the floor, or walk straight into the rear end of the the Handspring Puppet Company’s Joey (from the stage show War Horse) who was doing his rounds as part of an exhibition of some of the company’s craft.

Smartphones were regularly dragged out and original paintings photographed, raising the question of whether this constituted illegal copying of the works or some sort of copyright infringement. But as one stall minder pointed out, all the work on sale had been photographed for each artist’s catalogue, and those same photographs were available on each gallery’s website, so people sharing the images on social networks was a marketing plus rather than a problem.

Getting around the building takes some time, for a trio of reasons. Firstly, there is a lot of material to check out, with 35 exhibitors each having a range of work on display. Secondly, fine art fanatics are a relatively close-knit community, judging by the amount of stopping and chatting that was going on.

Passion for their subject matter was often very close to the surface in these exchanges, resulting in dramatic hand gestures and animated discussion. And thirdly, some of the familiar faces perusing paintings and so on were surprising in this context – Francois Pienaar, for instance, was a friendly presence.

The likes of William Kentridge were also pandering to their public, but that was less unexpected.


> The FNB Joburg Art Fair runs until tomorrow at the Sandton Convention Centre

> Tickets cost R100 per day from webtickets.co.za or at the door

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