Where to start, what to see + how to navigate it


Images: Supplied

Art lovers, are you ready? Gather ‘round. From this Friday 14 February to Sunday 16 February 2020, Investec Cape Town Art Fair (ICTAF) returns to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for its eighth year, bringing together hundreds of artists, gallerists, curators, collectors and… people who like nice things. As the biggest art fair on the continent that makes the Mother City cooler than cool – and more than just the place with the beach and the mountain, ICTAF includes the foremost galleries both locally and internationally: think Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and the US. Understandably, we’re excited for the global visual arts feast.


Bewildered? Intimidated? It’s a lot to get through, we get it. But possibly the best kind of problem to have, too. Not sure where to start, what to keep an eye out for and how to navigate everything? Take your cue from those in the know. ICTAF director Laura Vincenti offers some pointers on how to make the most of the fair and art advisor Phillippa Duncan shares her views on what to see if you’re pressed for time.


Do your homework

Your starting point is not the art fair, it’s the internet. Art fair websites usually contain information on highlights of the exhibition such as notable galleries, artworks, artists, talks, workshops and special events. Your research will help you identify galleries and artworks you would particularly like to see. However, once you get to the fair, you’ll see a maze of spaces and lots of people. Use a map or guide to the various displays, but allow yourself to wander off the beaten track. While you have a good idea of what you want to see, there are always gems along the way.

Look and learn

If you want to buy an artwork or become a collector, an art fair is a great resource for you to identify what is available and/or within your means. You can familiarise yourself with the latest developments and trends in the art world by attending talks and workshops, as well as identify artists whose work you enjoy and get to know them.

Buy into the art world

If you buy, buy a work you really love, whether it’s something you can simply enjoy in your home or an investment that you could sell in future. A great place to start for beginners is the art fair fringes, where young artists who are not represented by a gallery often exhibit their work. An enjoyable and affordable way to start collecting art. If you see art as an investment, a gallery is a good starting point. Depending on your means, you can invest in an established artist whose work is bound to appreciate in value or opt for a promising young artist or artists. Galleries are keen to establish relationships with prospective buyers. Explain what you enjoy and what you are prepared to pay and they’ll keep you informed about works that meet your criteria.


Walk this way

If this is your first time at ICTAF, I highly recommend a walkabout, which will give you an overview as well as insight on what to look out for. It’s also a good way to navigate the fair while taking note of what you would like to come back to afterwards. The tours are done via headsets, so even if you get side-tracked at a booth you’ll still be able to hear what’s being said. And don’t forget to pick up a map at the ticket desk when you arrive. There is nothing worse than not being able to find your way back to a booth for a second look.

Go global

The Italian galleries will be showcasing megastars from the Arte Povera movement. This radical movement, recognised from the late 60s to 70s, saw artists explore the relationship between maker and object. They also sought to break down the social barriers found in artists' use of materials in order to question the notion of high art. Seeking out these galleries will be rather like attending a mini-retrospective!

Tomorrow starts today

Tomorrows/Today is a section at the fair aimed at showcasing emerging or under-recognised artists. The work of Ernesto Shikhani (Mozambique) and Perve Galeria (Portugal) are poignant reminders of the all-too-familiar plight of some artists. A wonderful visual storyteller, Shikani is a long-ignored artist who has gained more interest on foreign soil than locally. And if you think his work looks familiar, this is the visual legacy that he has sparked in successive creatives… after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If contemporary art is too daunting for you, spend some time in the Past/Modern booths. This is where you’ll see master works with proven and growing collection records in specially curated booths.


For more information on the Investec Cape Town Art Fair or to purchase tickets visit www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za.

seen this
Gen Z