Visiting the Cape of South Africa is wonderful. The sun. The sand. The safari animals. The spectacular Table Mountain that overlooks Cape Town itself. And now it’s the hottest destination for art lovers of the world too. Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art opened in September 2017 and it’s a game changer.
Zeitz-Mocaa is Africa’s first major museum dedicated to contemporary African art, and is packed full of some of the best pieces of art from across the continent. The project is more than a showcase of spectacular art - it represents a more profound act of giving African artists a voice. For executive director and chief curator Mark Coetzee, the museum is a “platform for Africans to tell their own story and participate in the telling of that story”.
Built on the back of famed businessman and philanthropist Zeitz’s personal collection (widely considered to be the leading collection of contemporary African art in the world) it houses nine floors and over 100 galleries of artworks.
The building itself is an impressive feat of design. It’s a re-interpretation of an old silo by British Architect Thomas Heatherwick, which gives you the chance to imagine what the journey of a single seed through the structure might have been like, and takes the shape of a husk into the carved out center of the fantastic building.
There is truly ground-breaking work at every corner in Zeitz MOCAA. Here are some top pieces to look out for:
1. Kudzanai Chiurai
Chiurai’s mixed media work, videos and stills, spread over four rooms on the second floor extend an indulgent, hyper-real invitation into his fictional worlds.
Inspired by Banksy's street works, but reflective also of Basquiat’s use of animal imagery, writing and incorporation of anatomical drawings, Chiurai’s mixed media work including True Believer (2005) and series The Invention of Africa (2017) draw you in and invite you to stand a look deeply.
2. Zanele Muholi
Muholi’s series of Faces and Phases showcases LGBTQI+ people from South Africa. Hung with frames touching each other, the life size portraits make this intimate self-contained exhibition feel like standing in a room full of welcoming strangers.
Meet their eyes. Consider their stories. Admire the striking simplicity and power of Muholi’s photographs (and go away wishing you took pictures quite this good).
Mathison’s work Harvest (2013) was created for the 55th Venice Biennale and curated into the Zimbabwe Pavillion’s Dudziro exhibition. A grouping of blanched ceramic corn husks, hollowed on the inside, sit in a pile; almost discarded on the floor. Nourishing food, made of indible ceramic. Wholesome corn, hollow and empty inside.
Around are what appear to be carbonised stumps of wood - but these too are merely hollow acrylic resin and charcoal composites. A commentary on famine, hunger, but also hollow administration and empty political promises of plenty and industrialisation, this work is a must see.
Don't miss out on Zeitz-Mocaa if: You’re interested in new and upcoming art from Africa
Look out for: Kudzanai Chiurai and Zanele Muholi
Indulge by: Staying in the hotel on top of MOCAA and popping down for art before breakfast
Make sure you’re ahead of the curve by visiting next time you’re in Cape Town.
John Quilter wears a number of exciting hats. He’s an entrepreneur, broadcaster and chef. The Food Busker, as he’s known to his 170k YouTube fans, showcases the best global street food in London. John also co-founded and runs CRU Kafe, a food-tech startup that makes organic, fairtrade coffee.
It’s not just beans that go into CRU coffee pods; creativity and passion are key ingredients in the roast. John’s creative juices also extend to art - he and his wife collect pieces by Chairman Kato and Antony Micallef. The Food Busker himself gives us the low-down on creativity and curation.
What role does creativity play in your life and work?
It’s at the centre of everything I do, be it making films, helping to develop the CRU brand or cooking and writing. Creativity is the default setting of every human being, practising it is the key to a healthy, peaceful, rewarding life.
You're a curator on a number of levels - you curate food festivals, for example, and the Food Busker YouTube channel. What is your favourite curatorial role?
I don’t really have favourites; my attention depends on my feelings and my business focus. I try to keep doing new things, to have the courage to do what I’ve not done before rather than repeat what I know. So my favourite is the new. My latest passion is a new series of films for Food Busker comparing heritage brands such as beluga caviar against new upstart, sustainable caviar producers based in the UK.
What's the idea behind CRU's tagline, The art of living (according to coffee addicts)?
It’s hinting at the line between passion and need that we all cross when we interact with something we love. CRU is about organic, fair trade coffee from the best plantations in the world. It’s about coffee that is that good you can’t help but have another cup.
What links do you see between art, food and coffee?
Creativity! The art, action and practise of creating something a fresh, a new. Of listening to your inner soul and allowing it to dictate what you create or make today. Be that a cup of beautifully made coffee or challenging, thought provoking film.
Do you collect any art?
Yes we have some work by artist Chairman Kato and Antony Micallef, who’s a good friend of my wife. His images of Trump on a pack of Marlboro Reds has become quite iconic. I’ve also got a limited edition Hacienda first birthday party poster which is very cherished.
What are your 5 favourite pieces on Rise Art?
1. @EmpressAK by Mikela Henry-Lowe
2. Marilyn by Sir Peter Blake
3. Wild Angel by Louise McNaught
4. Ice Bucket by Keith More
Keep an eye out for an exciting Rise Art x CRU giveaway in the next few days on @crukafe.
Lucie Bennett makes silkscreen prints and paintings on aluminium that explore the female form in all its curvaceous glory. Sometimes her figures pop out immediately, and other times it takes some searching to find them amongst the lines and bends. She’s been featured on the BBC's Culture Show and has exhibited at the likes of the Royal Academy and the Barbican. Her work is also held in the private collections of the Groucho Club and Virgin. So what is it that Lucie is trying to say about female identity? And what makes her body works so popular?
When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
I always loved drawing and drew women from a very young age. Living in Asia when I was a child inspired my sense of colour - I loved all the unusual plants and the bright textiles people wore. I was also drawn to the freedom that an artist has.
What messages are you trying to get across about female identity in your work?
The work I like to make I see as being strong, female and beautiful - yes, we can be all of these things at the same time. I was inspired by female artists Cindy Sherman, Helen Chadwick and Frida Kahlo whilst at art school, all of whom used their own bodies in their work to great, evocative effect.
I think the female body is really beautiful, the curves, shapes and tangled lines you get drawing it. I'm also interested in the negative space the body creates, the areas around the body. I've often incorporated organic, plant shapes into my compositions which work well with the body and accentuate its sensuality.
In some of my work you don't see the body straight away and I like this sense of discovery, and recognising the similarities between our bodies and many other organic shapes.
Tell us about your two new prints on Rise Art.
Ipanema and Honey Island prints are bright, fun and sassy. I wanted to create two new bold prints to celebrate the start of Spring. They are a pair but also work separately. The titles of the works are taken from names of beautiful, well known Brazilian beaches.
On Brazilian beaches, the butt is celebrated almost to the point of reverence which makes sense to me. I've used strong, fun, joyful colours for these kick-ass females, and I chose to go classic Lucie Bennett figurative style for the new limited edition prints.
Can you tell us about your method(s)?
I've always been interested in exploring different materials, to give the subject matter of the female body some interesting and varied texture. As well as producing screen prints, I make paintings using gloss paint on aluminium panels, which have a fantastic, lacquered finish.
I like to make smaller works too - cut card collages, often using pieces of aluminium. I have made a series of neon light sculptures based on 50s style cartoon pin up girls, which was really fun, and worked with coloured acrylic plastics making laser cut objects depicting the female body (see Tutti Frutti). I always start by choosing a drawing which I can visualise being developed into something else, something more significant, more solid.
What do you love about your studio?
The friendly mice! My studio is a classic artist's' garret - a converted warehouse which is pretty cold and leaky in the winter but it houses a great hub of artists which is a bonus for an artist who spends most of their time holed up in their own studio. It's been great to have a community to share information, resources, tools and biscuits with.
Head Curator Rebecca Gordon investigates the power of painting by reviewing 3 blockbuster London exhibitions that turn our attention back to the old school painting tradition.
Antoinette Genevieve tells us about six cities that have exceptional public art. If you ever find yourself in Lima, Hong Kong, Porto, Liverpool or Vancouver - don't miss out.
With their vibrant colours, smiling sunbathers and gleeful swimmers, Ruth Mulvie’s paintings are pure joy. Ruth creates her utopian wonderlands from her loft studio in Brighton. Found imagery and old photographs form the basis of her work - with buckets of colour thrown in.
Ruth Millington gives us the lowdown on 5 great TV shows and films for art lovers.
Lauren Baker takes neon to new levels, with fields of energy, vibrations and materials like crystal and bone. Find out more about Lauren's fascinating practice.
To celebrate International Women's Day, Lori Zimmer highlights 5 woman-centered artworks by exceptional female artists.
David Wightman uses acrylic paint and wallpaper to create imaginary landscapes that are flooded with colour. Find out more about David's process in this Q&A.