'Joburg City Lights and Shadows': art exhibit illuminates bright new talents

Contemporary art takes centre stage at this three-day exhibition which is taking place during Johannesburg Art Week

29 August 2017 - 14:20 By SHELLEY SEID
Textile mannequin by Lizette Chirrime.
Textile mannequin by Lizette Chirrime.
Image: Supplied

A sculptured collection of towering skyscrapers, birds on a telephone pole, a bronze tree, an impressionistic artwork painted in plastic and a mannequin swathed in vivid textiles are just a quarter of the works on show at the Stephan Welz art exhibition.

Joburg City Lights and Shadows, a three-day exhibition during Johannesburg Art Week, is curated by Carol Brown, former director of the Durban Art Gallery and now an independent curator who works both abroad and at home.

This year the art fair celebrates its 10th anniversary and Stephan Welz auction house decided it was a good time to curate a show of contemporary artists, says Brown.

"They have a serious interest in developing artists. Showing art through an exhibition is an entirely different context from an auction where the works are seen as isolated objects with a history of ownership."

New work by Sthenjwa Luthuli.
New work by Sthenjwa Luthuli.
Image: Supplied

While traditionally art auctions focused on pieces previously owned by others, there is a move to auction new works as another outlet for artists wanting to sell their work.

This exhibition comprises 14 artists and 20 pieces.

"It's thematic so there's more time and opportunity for viewers to absorb and consider the works," says Brown. "It makes a nice break from the art fair which can be overwhelming."

Brown mentions Durban designer and artist Xavier Clarisse, who received a commission for a piece that formed part of the international travelling exhibition of the Art and Global Health Centre, UCLA, and is now in the permanent collection of the Wits University Adler Museum. He has been named the designer to watch by 100% Design South Africa's Cathy O'Clery.

Clarisse's sculpture Urban Forest 2, a fantastical cityscape crafted from hardwood, blurs the boundaries between art and design.

Also on show is one of the top five finalists of the 2017 New Signatures Art Competition - Durbanite Sthenjwa Luthuli's woodcut prints have made him collectable in Germany, where he has exhibited.

Look out for a spectacular textile mannequin by Mozambican Lizette Chirrime, who has been selected by the Africa Art Fair as one of eight "Bright Young Things".

The works range from R30,000 to Clarisse's piece at R450,000.

• 'City Lights' is on from September 5 to 7 at the Killarney Country Club, Johannesburg.

• This article was originally published in The Times.