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TOMORROWS/TODAY ushers in new perspectives on African art practices and its exhibition

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The Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020, which will run from 14-16 February 2020 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), is an experience that is constantly evolving, from year to year, to accommodate the changing dynamics of the local and international art scene.

One progression is TOMORROWS/TODAY, one of the main art fair sections that leads each edition. Structured as a curated exhibition, with a prestigious award attached, it is a portal to new visions in the visual arts. The aim of TOMORROWS/TODAY has, from its inception, also been to shine a light on emerging and under-represented artists, set to be tomorrow’s leading names. It is open to those working on and beyond the African continent and as the title implies, the ongoing theme is one of transformation, and experimentation showcasing unorthodox art forms addressing current social and political issues.

TOMORROWS/TODAY 2020 guest co-curators Nkule Mabaso (Curator at Michaelis Galleries, Cape Town) and Luigi Fassi (Artistic Director of MAN Contemporary Art Museum in Nuoro, Italy) have been made responsible for presenting a cross-section of the most exciting and emerging and less known artists from Africa, the Diaspora and the world.

Artists that will be showcased in the section are Danica Lundy (USA) of Gallery C+N Canepaneri in Italy, Amanda Mushate (Zimbabwe) of First Floor Gallery in Zimbabwe, François-Xavier Gbré (France) of Gallery Cecile Fakhoury in Paris, Andy Robert (USA) of Hannah Hoffman in Los Angeles, Fathi Hassan (Egypt) of Gallery Lawry Shabibi in Dubai, Ernesto Shikhani (Mozambique) of Perve Galeria in Portugal, Nnenna Okore (Australia) of Gallery Sakhile&Me in Germany, Gregory Olympio (Togo) of Septieme Gallery in Paris, Bonolo Kavula (South Africa) of Suburbia Contemporary in Spain and Isabelle Grobler (South Africa) of Sulger-Buel Gallery in UK.

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The Process

The selection process has meant that Mabaso and Fassi have engaged with galleries on and beyond the African continent in search of artists, and works, that speak directly to African art practices, or that express what it means to be an artist of African descent working outside of the continent, today.

“Normally the focus of the section is around emerging artists,” Mabaso says. “But while that generally refers to young artists that are newly signed to galleries, but who are not well established in their careers, we wanted to stretch that and look at it more as ‘emerging’ in the sense that they may not be well known in South Africa. That would mean that they are emerging in the sense that we need to become familiar with them. They are unknown to us, but they may well be professional and established where they come from.”

About the process from the point of view of all interest groups, Fassi says, “There are basically three parallel stories that intersect: there is the story of the participating artists who we have invited; the supporting galleries and of the curators.

“The exhibition is then the outcome of the intersection of these three stories – people coming from different backgrounds and playing different roles. Because the role of the galleries is to back the invited artists, to support them, it is a different dynamic than that of the artists.”

TOMORROWS/TODAY, in 2020, will not be based on one particular theme, reflecting the diverse interests of artists of Africa, and of African descent.

According to Mabaso, “In terms of the content of each artist’s practice I don’t think that each artist responds to subject matter in the same way. We wanted to balance the artistic output across the mediums, so you’ve got painters, installation and sculpture.

“We didn’t put the group together with any guiding thematic. We didn’t create a theme because we had to balance different interests – our own interests, the galleries’ interests and the interests of the fair.