Perhaps you don’t know much about contemporary art. Perhaps you find the chatter of art types intimidating. Neither of these is a good enough reason to not attend the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, which is taking place on February 16-18 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Sure, the fair is going to be a maze of gallery-like white cubes displaying all kinds of art, and you’re bound to stand alongside some person talking about a painting being "conceptually strong and a powerful commentary on the heteronormative gaze". But that’s not what these things are about. Or at least, not entirely.

After all, what is art if not something that you admire because it’s beautiful and/or makes you feel something and/or challenges you?

The fair’s chief art curator, Tumelo Mosaka, says: "We live in a visual world, and what’s really important is that we have a response to something we look at — it’s like being in a club and hearing music; you may not know what it is but you have an opinion on it or it reminds you of something."

He describes the fair as "the Olympics of art". He says: "It’s a place on the continent where you get to see the best of local and international art all in one space."

This year this includes work that tackles personal stories and issues that are close to home, such as Jacob Zuma, who makes an appearance in Joburg artist Lawrence Lemaoana’s latest piece, Ilifa Lezithuta. The work questions the idea of SA’s freedom after 1994 and asks whether we’ve allowed this freedom to be squandered.

There are also works that have global resonance. This is especially true of a major theme running through the fair this year, which centres on female artists. It includes the special Solo space, which will be curated by Nontobeko Ntombela. It will display art produced by a group of women from across the globe. They are all grappling with widespread sociopolitical issues and their work is sure to give you something to think about.

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