Turbine Art Fair: The noise of human hearts beating
For Ronel van der Vyver, reopening her Millennium Gallery in Groenkloof took her back to a space she needed to be in. She took some time out for a few years but she’s back with a bang, and 2017’s Turbine Art Fair was proof of that. "It felt as if I was back in business," is how this art lover describes her home-coming.
It is the fair’s mission statement — offering an opportunity to view and buy quality artwork from emerging and established talent in a fun and accessible way, with all pieces priced below R50,000.00 — that appealed to her. That implies a specific market and one in which she’s happy to play. It allows some of her established artists to sell work in a specific class while it is also a great time to introduce and push new and younger talent.
Van der Vyver feels that even though 2017 was her first time at the fair, she hit the mark with her selection, including work by the late Braam Kruger. This year she’s excited by a new young artist she has just exhibited in her Groenkloof home gallery, Odette Graskie.
Graskie, a studio artist at End Street Studios in Joburg, has a degree from the University of Pretoria, where her most influential lecturer was Nicola Grobler, who is known for her interactive artworks.
Part of the appeal for Van der Vyver was her affinity for installation and sculpture, and what she loves about Graskie’s work is its playfulness.
Graskie describes her work at the fair, entitled Human Noise, as textile artworks that play with the idea of anthropomorphism as a tool to create an emotive response from those who encounter the work.
"The figures are presented in an attempt to anthropomorphise emotion, identifying humanity in a psychological sense," explains the artist.
Her title was inspired by a quote from Raymond Carver: "I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one moving, not even when the room went dark."
"I want to confront viewers with uncertainty," Graskie says.
Graskie’s figures are suspended with string and displayed in what she describes as a "gymnastics of form", and despite their not being alive, they force certain responses, even if the viewer rejects interacting.
"The shapes aren’t all inspired by humans, but by shadows and trees passed by on a dark night or waving in the wind in a strange and magical way," she notes.
Underpinning these shapes and forms are drawings that experiment with her need to detail encounters with others — from strangers in the street to her closest relationships.
"Working with such drawings enhances my experience of a moment with someone," she explains. But she also explores sewing as an art form, or rather, as drawing. "Line is the most crucial factor in my process," Graskie says.
Enhancing this work, which will probably dominate the Millennium stand because of its playful presence, Van der Vyver also features paper work by Norman Catherine, some brilliant pieces by the Danish-based South African artist Doris Bloom and sculpture by Zelda Stroud.
Other highlights at the RMB Turbine Art Fair include:
Throughout the weekend, the RMB Private Bank Talks Programme has walkabouts with celebrities, art professionals and well-known artists including magazine editors, art advisers, curators, Instagrammers, major collectors and successful artists. These free walkabouts also include age-appropriate options aimed at helping children understand art and sharing a vocabulary that equips them to appreciate and describe it.
An exhibition featuring a selection of Irma Stern still lifes from private collections, entitled Is There Still Life? The work of Irma Stern will be presented by Strauss & Co. A competition among scholars at tertiary art schools in Gauteng has also been created for artists to submit a still life in a medium of their choice, and a selection of the best works will be exhibited alongside the Stern showcase.
This landscape. This landscape! The Quintessential Metaphor For Life by David Koloane in collaboration with LL Editions and curated by Ruzy Rusik to celebrate 80 years of artist David Koloane.
Installations have always been an exciting part of the FNB Turbine Art Fair. Curator Tamzin Lovell-Miller asks the question: "Who are we after this ‘post-truth’ time has shaped us?" With this in mind, she pulls together artworks that range from the finely crafted to the augmented virtual, as well as the interactive physical and digital, hoping to inspire and encourage extraordinary new ideas.
The Graduate Exhibition returns for a fourth year and is specially curated. It features some of the best post-graduate paintings, and in 2018 includes photography from university art departments across the country. The exhibition is curated by Musa N Nxumalo.
RMB Talent Unlocked has funded a six-month intensive workshop programme for emerging artists that integrates practical art-making (focusing on process and conceptual development) and professional practice training in collaboration with Assemblage and the Visual Arts Network of SA. This exhibition of emerging artists is curated by Fulufhelo Mobadi.
VIP cocktail preview: Thursday July 12, 6pm to 9pm: R800 per person. Online bookings only, no tickets will be sold at the door. Canapés and drinks are included in the ticket price.
Friday July 13: 11am to 8pm; Saturday July 14: 10am to 6pm; Sunday July 15: 10am to 5pm.
Tickets (via Webtickets): Adults R100 online or R120 at the door; R200 online or R250 at the door for a weekend pass (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
Children under 12: R50 online or R80 at the door; children over 12: R80 online or R100 at the door. Students: R80 online or R100 at the door.
See www.turbineartfair.co.za for more details.