People behind the art books in Cape Town

Interview with –  Sam Roth Rietnann  from Ebony Gallery

A short creative bio about yourself – what lights your creative fire?

I have been incredibly lucky after the last few years to, through my work with EBONY/CURATED, come into contact with many talented and passionate artists from all over Africa. Their talent, stories and vibrancy continues to inspire me help create opportunities for their narratives to be told and seen by the public.

What are you looking forward to at this years Art Fair?

The Solo Section curated by Nontobeko Ntombela which will showcase 10 of the best female artist from the African continent.

What are your recommended books and what do you love most about them?

I set out with the best intentions of choosing only three books but landed up with a few more. But my top picks are the old Edward Munch book I was given as a child and still continues to fascinate me. Then, three well thumbed and annotated books by art theorists, John Berger, Julian Barnes and Hans Ulrich Obrist, which helped me shape the way I look at art when I was studying. And lastly ‘Picasso: Bon Vivant’ which tells the story of Picasso’s life and through his hand-written recipes, candid photographs and sketches- its’s not strictly an art book but it does combine my two favourite things- food and art!

If you where visiting Cape Town for the first time what would be top of your bucket list?

  • Hike up Skelton Gorge and long the top of Table Mountain to the cable station, stop for a well deserved beer and then zip on down in the cable car!
  • A visit to the Zeitz MOCAA.
  • Dinner at Timbuktu (a hidden treasure of an Ethiopian restaurant in Observatory).

Contact information:  sam@ebonycurated.com

Interview with – Fay Jackson from SMAC Gallery

A short creative bio about yourself – what lights your creative fire?

Having studied Fine Art at Rhodes University, I went on to work in the creative industries in Cape Town as a photographer and an arts writer, ultimately taking up the position of assistant editor at the well established art journal, ART AFRICA (still Art South Africa when I joined the team). Since moving to Joburg, I have been working with the incredible team at SMAC Gallery, heading up publishing and communications in the Johannesburg gallery on the Keyes Art Mile. I’m endlessly inspired by the artists in our stable, with a particular affection for sculptural and installation-based works by artists such as Wallen Mapondera, Willem Boshoff, Cyrus Kabiru, and Frances Goodman, as well as the abstract paintings of young artists Mongezi Ncaphayi and Alexandra Karakashian.

What are you looking forward to at this years Art Fair?

I’m incredibly excited about Lhola Amira’s presentation in the SOLO section of the fair, curated by Nontobeko Ntombela. Lhola Amira will be presenting a brand new short film, titled SINKING: Xa Sinqamla Unxubo.  I’m also looking forward to El Anatsui’s solo exhibition, Meyina, curated by Bisi Silva and showing at the Iziko South African National Gallery from the 17th of February. Anatsui is truly one of the most influential  contemporary artists working today, and this marks his first solo show in South Africa.

What are your recommended books and what do you love most about them?

I have selected Georgina Gratrix’s self-titled monograph, and Kate Gottgens’ most recent publication, Kate Gottgens: Paintings 2015 – 2017, as well as Simon Stone’s latest publication, titled Simon Stone: Sketchbooks 1 – 100, which will be released in conjunction with his solo exhibition, Cogs of Mercy (opening 3 February 2018). This show includes new oil paintings, as well as the first-ever public display of Stone’s significant collection of sketchbooks. All three of these books are incredible overviews of the period of practice that they represent for each artist. From a design perspective, Georgina Gratrix’s book is beautifully innovative in the way it approaches her practice.

If you where visiting Cape Town for the first time what would be top of your bucket list?

  • I would definitely put the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) at the top of that list! The whole of the SILO district is a wonderful attraction.
  • From an outdoorsy perspective, a climb (or a cable car, for those less-inclined towards hiking) to the top of Table Mountain is a must.
  • For the hikers, my favourite route is up Skeleton Gorge.
  • For food, one of my favourite hidden gems for fresh, delicious seafood is Ocean Jewels in the Woodstock Exchange.

Contact information: fay@smacgallery.com

Interview with – Sinazo Chiay from Stevenson Gallery

A short creative bio about yourself – what lights your creative fire?

As curator of the gallery library I often reference Eugene Field’s quote – ‘Let my temptation be a book, which I shall purchase, hold, and keep.” Included would be my other temptations – vinyl’s and hats. Which are inspired by my love for jazz, history, stories and art.

What are you looking forward to at this year’s Art Fair?

Aside from the art the all the art to be seen, this year’s talks programme seems very exciting. Instead of a being limited to local voices there are quite a few thinkers from our region and other places from around the world.

What are your recommended books and what do you love most about them?

Kemang Wa Lehulere – Published in the event of Wa Lehulere’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award, this book really provides an overview of the early parts of his career. Throughout there’s a series of letters between him and Khwezi Gule which provides quite a sensitive glimpse into the artist’s mind.

Portia Zvavahera – What’s crucial to note about this book is that it spans the Portia Zvavahera’s work from 2013 to early 2017 so you really get to see how the artists colour palate, gestures and means of figuration have changed with time. And it’s also quite a bit large than our other texts so there’s more space for the eye to get lost in all the little details.

Zanele Muholi-  this text has been described as something of a ‘queer bible’ but more than it’s an important social document for all of us. It’s a real tribute to the lives of those who are marginalised. As a historical text it’s empowering as a statement of resistance – it says despite the various threats and traumas faced by these individuals, their lives can never be fully erased, they are celebrated and immortalised in these pages.

If you were visiting Cape Town for the first time what would be top of your bucket list?

  • Iziko Museum.
  • Our neighbours, the other contemporary galleries in Woodstock such as Blank projects, Goodman Gallery, SMAC & What if The World.
  • The Pan African Market.
  • District Six Museum.

Contact information: sinazo@stevenson.info

Interview with  – Alexandra Gaag from Barnard Gallery

A short creative bio about yourself – what lights your creative fire?

In 2017 Barnard published 5 limited edition (100 copies) and signed publications on the occasion of various solo exhibitions. The purpose of Barnard Publishing is to support and promote our artists through the medium of the book. The publications we produce are not catalogues of an exhibition, nor are they strictly speaking monographs; rather they are an extension or expression of the artist’s output in a different form i.e similar to that of an ‘artist’s book.  I was lucky to be involved in the process of creating these publications and did the layout of each book. It is amazing to see these publications coming to life!

What are you looking forward to at this year’s Art Fair?

Cape Town Art Fair is always a  special event on the local calendar – there is a certain buzz in the air and one gets to see a lot of art. The highlight for me this year will be our launch of another publication – this time for Virginia Mackenny.

What are your recommended books and what do you love most about them?

Gerard Richter,  Joseph Albers & Annie Leibovitz as well as the books Barnard has published over the past years.

If you were visiting Cape Town for the first time what would be top of your bucket list?

  • A hike up Lions Head to watch the sun rise.
  • Hope on Hopkins Gin tasting on a Saturday.
  • La Colombe restaurant – love the food and ambience there.

Contact information: alexandra@barnardgallery.com

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