Artists celebrate the light and shade of city life at the Joburg Art Fair

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Carl Roberts’ sculpture “Wild Plum Tree”.

THE work of three Durban artists — Xavier Clarisse, Carl Roberts and Sthenjwa Luthuli — will be showcased at the prestigious Joburg Art Fair, from Tuesday, September 5 to Thursday, September 7, writes ESTELLE SINKINS.

Curated by Carol Brown, the exhibition, titled “City Lights… and shadows”, is being hosted by auction house, Stephan Welz, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“Although Stephan Welz, who have been in the business 50 years, are well known as auctioneers, this show will not be an auction but a curated exhibition with a direct selling of new works,” said Brown, who is based in Durban.

“The aim is to show art in a different context from an auction where artworks are seen as isolated objects which have a history of ownership.

“A curated show gives a different spin to the artwork as it is contextualised in a thematic way and the viewer is able to see how it fits in with certain themes and also to take time in absorbing the multiple experiences which result from this as well as building a collection.”

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Xavier Clarisse’s “Urban Forest” is three metres high and made from carved kiaat.

Roberts, who is based in Hillcrest, studied fine art at Rhodes and lhas been a full time sculptor for about 20 years. He draws his inspiration from his family life, the natural world around him and the political foibles of the country.

Roberts collects driftwood from beaches and river banks, as well as bones from animals, to create his work, which retains the marks and shape of the found materials.

He is also known for his bronzes and has recently set up a foundry in the trampoline pit in his garden. Luthuli was born in Bothas Hill in 1991. In 2010 he joined the BAT Centre’s visual art classes and a year later enrolled for the Velobala Saturday art classes hosted by the African Art Centre at the Durban University of Technology.

Luthuli, one of five finalists in the 2017 New Sigantures Art competition, is inspired by fellow artists Wangechi Mutu, Owusu Ankomah and Yinka Shonibare.

Since 2011 he has participated in group exhibitions in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg. And in 2012 he showed work at exhibitions in Bremen, Germany and completed a mural project in the Concordia Tunnel, located alongside the Leiterin der Stadtischen Galerie in the German city.

Clarisse, was born in Lyon, France and studied at “L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts” at St Etienne. Now based in Durban he has worked for 20 years in the design and art sector in the United Kingdom, France and South Africa.

His work forms part of the Durban Art Gallery’s collection and some of his sculptures are on permanent display at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. He also created a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ for a travelling exhibition commissioned by the Art and Global Health Centre in UCLA. The cabinet is now in the permanent collection of the University of Witwatersrand Adler Museum.

His sculpture “Urban Forest 2”, which forms part of this exhibition, blurs the boundaries between art and design and is a vision of a fantastical cityscape.

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Lizette Chirrime’s 2m high fabric sculpture, “Layers of my Soul”.

Asked why they had decided to host the event, Anton Welz, spokesman for Stephan Welz, said the company had noticed an increase in the production of contemporary art and younger buyers entering into the fine art auction market.

“They are finding their way into the market via new and different avenues than their predecessors,” he added. “The attraction of events like First Thursdays in Cape Town, on which galleries and the contemporary artists they are showing are a highlight, The FNB Johannesburg Art Fair and The Cape Town Art Fair are taking art to the younger generation.”

The “City Lights… and shadows” exhibition will be staged at the Killarney Country Club in Houghton, Johannesburg. It and includes the work of 14 artists working in different media.

The exhibition is open from 10 am to 5 pm. There will be an opening reception at 6 pm on Tuesday, September 5 and a talk by the curator, Carol Brown, at 6 pm on Wednesday, September 6.


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