While for many of us the FNB JoburgArtFair is a chance to soak up a cross-section of the contemporary South African art scene, to others it’s an important event for buying art. Even though owning a piece of artwork by our favourite artists remains a fantasy to most of us, knowing which artists are hot stuff, on the rise, and on collectors’ radars is always good to know. “I would buy work that I love but ensure that I’m buying work by ‘an artist with legs’”, Emma Bedford, a senior art specialist at Strauss & Co. explains, “i.e. there is such market confidence that one would expect the value to grow in the long term”. We spoke to five other art professionals about the art of collecting, and asked them to share their insights into which artist they’d buy for R10 000, R50 000 and R100 000.
Dawood Petersen, independent art collector
R10 000 – R50 000 – I would recommend the paintings from Portia Zvavahera. She is the winner of the FNB 2014 Art Prize and was shown at the Venice Biennale at the Zimbabwean Pavilion in 2013.
Matthew Krouse, arts writer and industry professional
R10 000 – Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse’s Ponte. Subotzky and Waterhouse worked at Ponte City, the iconic Johannesburg apartment building which is Africa’s tallest residential skyscraper, for more than six years photographing the residents and documenting the building – every door, the view from every window. This remarkable body of images is presented with an extensive archive of found material and historical documents in a box set of photographs, specially written booklets and documentation published by Steidl.
R50 000 – REM (cave) by Minette Vari. Videographer and conceptualist, Vari took an image of herself in the throes of movement and projected it onto the prehistoric walls of the Cango Cave. A large but sensuous mounted, diaset digital print.
R150 000 – Untitled (six faces) by Gerald Machona. Video artist, performance artist and sculptor Gerald Machona presents a 90cm cube similar to the Rubik’s Cube that took the world by storm in the mid-1970. Only this cube is made out of money.
Emma Bedford of Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading auction house of fine and decorative arts.
R10 000 – I would buy a Walter Battiss screenprint as Battiss is considered one of our top artists, an innovator in his time and a precursor of contemporary art.
R50 000 – An Irma Stern ceramic vase or a painted bronze by Claudette Schreuders. These are affordable works by blue chip artists.
R100 000 – If you can afford to push the boat out at R1 500 000 you can’t go wrong with a William Kentridge drawing.
Warren Siebrits of Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Art, an independent collector and curator.
R10 000 – Walter Battiss because he never goes out of fashion and always remains current.
R 50 000 – Andrzej Urbanski, our most recent and best purchase of 2014 – a phenomenal exponent of abstraction.
R 100 000 – Lisa Brice, a gifted South African painter who remains unknown to most South African collectors because she lives outside of the country.
Suzette Bell-Roberts of Art South Africa, the country’s longest-running dedicated arts journal.
R10 000 – A painting by Mia Chaplin; I have a penchant for painting and love the textured surfaces and layers that this talented artist uses in her work.
R50 000 – Athi-Patra Ruga and Cameron Platter; I love the humour and irony displayed in the work by these young artists. The bold colours used and subject matter which they address are very African in character and content.
R100 000 – Wayne Barker – his work is so reflective of his personality and I love Wayne!
Michelle Constant of BASA , Business and Arts South Africa.
R10 000 – There is a new generation of young Johannesburg artists doing exciting things. Check out the work of Pebofatso ‘Pebbles’ Mokoena. I just got two of his works, and I am super excited about his future trajectory.
R50 000 – I was recently introduced to the work of Richard Mudariki. In particular I love a work he did called ‘Business and Pleasure’ – it forcefully engages with current culture. If I were going to stay on the Zimbabwean tip, I would go for a painting by the FNB Art Fair Art Prize winner, Portia Zvavahera. I love her ‘Tauya Naye’. It’s an amazingly quirky but gorgeous work. I would also love a Joni Brenner watercolour – in particular one of the works of a woman’s midriff – exquisite.
R100 000 – I have always wanted a Deborah Bell, but somehow missed the boat. Her work is amazingly complex yet simple at the same time.
So with these insights as inspiration, be sure to take your credit card to the FNB JoburgArtFair to go buy some art.