The 2018 instalment of the Turbine Art Fair (TAF) will continue to do what it does best, and focus on the celebration of emerging African art, artists and collectors.
Having partnered with TAF since its inception, Strauss & Co Fine Art Auctioneers have both witnessed and helped shape the continued growth of young artists and art collectors through the annual fair. Last year’s museum-style Pierneef exhibition, for example, was a prime example of what one can achieve by starting to collect art from a young age. Anton Taljaard, the owner of the Pierneef collection, acquired his first artwork – a Pierneef linocut – at the age of 13 before becoming one of the foremost collectors of modern and contemporary South African art.
In addition to the many watercolours, oil paintings and etchings that were present at last year’s exhibition, Strauss & Co also featured Pierneef-inspired prints made by students of Artist Proof Studio alongside the exhibition.
‘They were exhibited, they were up for sale, and they sold like hotcakes,’ says Strauss & Co’s Wilhelm van Rensburg. ‘Having projects like that at the Turbine Art Fair encourages young people to start collecting art, and it also encourages emerging artists themselves.’
At this year’s fair, Strauss & Co will be exhibiting a selection of Irma Stern still life works. With the works coming from various independent collectors, the exhibition, which is titled Life Force: The Still Lifes of Irma Stern, will pay tribute to the artist herself as well as the genre of still life throughout history.
This year, explains Van Rensburg, Strauss & Co has invited art students from tertiary institutions across Gauteng to submit still life works across the mediums of painting, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture.
‘To put it simply, we want to make still life sexy again,’ says Van Rensburg. ‘This time around, we didn’t want to limit it to printmaking so we cast the net wide and opened it to even more artistic mediums. Winning artists will receive cash prizes, have their work exhibited at Turbine Art Fair, and get a chance to have their work bought up by collectors.’
Strauss & Co’s Dr Alastair Meredith adds that many students and established art collectors may have not even heard of Irma Stern’s work, let alone seen it exhibited anywhere. To have her work exhibited and engaged with, can be both informative and exciting.
‘For them to be able to reinterpret her work and learn about the genre of still life throughout history, I think that’s hugely exciting,’ says Meredith.
Beyond the work that TAF does to encourage the buying of works by emerging artists, the range of works exhibited at the fair also do an incredible amount to expose art-lovers, young and old, to a wide range of African artists. Susie Goodman, also from Strauss & Co, explains that an annual art fair like TAF can be one of the few times where people from all walks of life can come and engage with art.
‘One of the things I love the most about Turbine is that it connects people in all sorts of ways,’ says Goodman. ‘You get people coming from all over who are genuinely interested in the art world. Of course, we have some great art fairs in the country, but Turbine is an affordable art fair, which means that art-lovers can come with a small budget, find an artist they like, and buy their work. Over the years, you’ll see how certain buyers keep coming back to buy more work from the same artist. There’s actually one individual from RMB who comes every year to buy something small. Turbine connects people in that way.’
Another event that’s grown alongside TAF is Strauss & Co’s online auction. The auctions, which feature works of art by well-known artists, are targeted at entry-level buyers and over the years, have grown exponentially.
‘It’s been absolutely phenomenal,’ says Goodman. ‘It’s a hugely important event for us on the online calendar, and it’s grown at a fantastic rate. We had about 400 people who registered online last year and it’s great to run them with Turbine, because it means that people can go to the art fair and buy the young and contemporary works, but they can also go online and buy something from 1902, all at an affordable rate.’