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The all-new FNB Art Joburg

Along with new owners and a new name, the 2019 iteration of FNB Art Joburg will see the introduction of two new sections: Gallery Lab and MAX.

FNB Art Joburg MAX Gallery Lab 16/16 Lagos
16/16, Lagos

Mandla Sibeko, the new owner and founding director of FNB Art Joburg, says he’s excited to host Joburg’s leading art fair, which comes with a great responsibility to uphold a standard that reflects the quality of artists. It’s a new model that focuses on strong content and greater collaboration between galleries and all stakeholders in Johannesburg and around the world.
     ‘This will be reflected in fewer participating exhibitors and an innovative section devoted to new, emerging artists and spaces as well as international galleries and those who are looking to engage with a contemporary African audience,’ says Sibeko.
     Within Gallery Lab, galleries and hybrid spaces from the continent and beyond will gather for an annual conference of collaboration, discussions and sharing of best practices. 
      The section is curated by Nicole Siegenthaler (Fair Manager, FNB Art Joburg) and Banele Khoza (Founding Director, BKhz) with nine exhibitors. Gallery Lab will serve as an incubator, a space to develop and nurture emerging galleries and programmes as well as a space for exploration; to present and test new artists, ideas and business models relevant to the contemporary African arts landscape. 
     Invited to participate on a proposal basis, featured artists from nine galleries from five countries include 16/16, Lagos; BKhz, Joburg; Eclectica Contemporary, Cape Town; ELA Espaço Luanda Arte, Luanda; Modzi Arts, Lusaka; NO END Contemporary Art Space, Joburg; Rele Gallery, Lagos; Revolving Arts Incubator, Lagos and Yebo Contemporary, Swaziland. 

FNB Art Joburg MAX Gallery Lab Hussein Salim Eclectica Contemporary
Hussein Salim, Untitled (HS 255). Eclectica Contemporary

They will make up an active hub set up for workshops, talks and informal gatherings that focus on specific professional practice topics such as artist relationships, web design, art fair applications and financial management and other wider themes affecting the contemporary African creative economy. 
     As part of Gallery Lab, Eclectica Contemporary will exhibit work by Loyiso Mkize and Hussein Salim. Mkize will present an installation wall. The works will revolve around a series that pays tribute to Winnie Mandela. Following her death in 2018, there has been much conversation around her legacy, her presence in our history and how we might remember her as more than we – or better, many history books – previously had. This installation will tie in painting with sculptural elements and text, celebrating her complex, controversial and important legacy.
     Accompanying this installation on the adjacent wall, Salim’s evocative and vibrant paintings will create a counterpoint and add to the construction of the booth’s curation, of the nuances and complexities that create facets of our stories. Originally from Sudan, his work speaks a narrative that is familiar and individual – migrating across contexts, diaspora and histories. While the evocative colours and mystical patterning may offer respite, the work should be understood as a product of its context; extending from reflective and deeply powerful work made in response to the crisis in Sudan, evoking the idea of the phoenix rising, while highlighting a strongly afro-centric narrative that focuses on commonalities of experience, the vast richness of different contexts and the representations necessary by and for African artists, viewers and above all – people.

FNB Art Joburg MAX Gallery Lab Marcellina Akpojotor Rele Gallery
Marcellina Akpojotor, Eyes on the gold V (Power series II). Rele Gallery

NO END Contemporary Art Space’s presentation We Know This will include Balekane Legoabe and MJ Turpin. The artists included in this selection both interrogate subjects that they appear to know intimately, but at the same time, feel separate from. Turpin explores notions of privilege related to his identity, and engages in a visual ‘grapple’ with the power constructs that he knows his identity holds. Legoabe considers loneliness, depression and despair as an identifying contributor to her identity. Her work becomes a visual exploration thereof – an attempt to confront these aspects that she knows so deeply, but at the same time struggles to fully know. Both artists present the viewer with a visual debate of positionality in the world, determined by aspects both seemingly within, and outside of, their control.
     The presentation of these bodies of work in a duo exhibition becomes, then, a visual argument to explore that which the artist ‘knows’. There is sarcasm in the title – We Know This – which refers to both the artists’ acknowledgement or acceptance while simultaneously containing a critical questioning of what is possibly not fully understandable, agreed with, condoned, or comforted. The work becomes a visual rhetoric, a type of inner dialogue projected outward to be engaged with and made visible to those that view it. 

FNB Art Joburg MAX Gallery Lab Ayo Akinwande Revolving Arts Incubator
Ayo Akinwande, Power Show II: The God-Fathers Are Not To Blame. Revolving Arts Incubator

Of course, rhetoric is a persuasive tool, and in this case, who is being persuaded? What role can the audience assume? In this case, audience members become mere witnesses to these arguments (critiques, negations, denials, acceptances, and considerations). The viewer remains a bystander to this dialogue laid bare… And as witnesses, the audience is not required to assist or resolve, but rather observe the struggle with ‘what we know’ by simply acknowledging.
     Yebo Contemporary’s stand within Gallery Lab will feature an installation by Khulekani Msweli called Ngihle Ngikhohlwa Ngikhumbula (Sometimes I forget, Sometimes I remember). There will also be a group exhibition featuring work by Mbongeni Dlamini, Mesuli Mamba, Tony Marshak, Phindile Mamba, Thabo Lukhele and Sakhile Gumbi.
     The MAX section – a first in Africa – will exclusively be dedicated to showcasing large-scale installations that might typically be challenging to exhibit in a fair setting. Unconfined to booths, Goodman Gallery will present a massive painting by Misheck Masamvu; Everard Read will exhibit a show-stopping sculpture by Brett Murray; blank projects has commissioned Igshaan Adams to create work on-site; SMAC will present a new collage by Jody Paulsen; WHATIFTHEWORLD will exhibit a multimedia sculpture by Athi Patra-Ruga; and Stevenson will showcase a large scale photographic print by Zanele Muholi
     Galleries in the central section will exhibit in a booth structure and include blank projects; Everard Read, Gallery MOMO, Goodman Gallery, Kalashnikovv Gallery, SMAC, SMITH, Stevenson, and WHATIFTHEWORLD. 
     FNB Art Joburg takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from 13 to 15 September. Tickets are available from

Find out more about Art Week Joburg in our other articles:
A feast of fairs at Art Week Joburg 2019
The artworks of Nandipha Mntambo
Creating a legacy through printmaking with Artist Proof Studio
Thomarts Gallery is at The MARC during Art Week Joburg

The all-new FNB Art JoburgThe artworks of Nandipha Mntambo
Creating a legacy through printmaking with Artist Proof Studio
Thomarts Gallery is at The MARC during Art Week Joburg

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