As the art community prepares for the ninth annual Investec Cape Town Art Fair (ICTAF), Pretoria-based artist Philiswa Lila says she’s honoured to form part of this global event.
Set to take place from 18 to 20 February at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) the hybrid event will showcase artworks by upcoming as well as established and celebrated artists from around the world.
“I am pleased to be presenting a Solo at ICTAF. I began creating the work at the beginning of 2020, and then there was the postponement because of Covid.
“I resumed work on the exhibition in 2021 until now, while working on various projects in between,” says Lila.
“I am presenting paintings and a live performance titled Hambha Mfazi! There is also a recording of the performance which will be shown online,” she adds.
The Solo section features selected young and vibrant artists to exhibit their new works.
Lila says her medium of choice which includes animal skin and beaded pieces speaks on the theme of Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2022, which is “Connect through Art from Africa and the World.”
“My work is interdisciplinary making use of painting, beads, wood, performance art, photography, video, and writing. The techniques that I use in my painting is from photographic references that I document myself of an animal skin like sheep, goat, and cow.
“This is mainly when the skin has been dried. I make use of beads to create sculptural pieces that I also use in my performances,” explains Lila.
Lila, who is represented by the Melrose Gallery, Johannesburg, unpacks some of her personal experiences and identities through art.
“Since 2019 my work has been focusing on the themes of memory and personal identity. I use my family photo album as an intimate object and visual material that performs memory.
“I discovered my old family photo album with no photographs in it. I liked the traces and residues that showed human connections with the album, and its almost dilapidated condition.
“These human traces on the album, and other objects, can trigger individual autobiographical memories that connect to collective social networks.
“It connected me to many past moments, experiences, and collective memories. I also ask questions that relate to culture, tradition, rites of passage and other rituals.”
Some of her notable accolades include a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, which she completed in 2019.
“I enjoyed my stay in Paris. It was a three-month residency after winning the Gerard Sekoto Award in the Absa L’Atelier competition. I explored the city by walking through different parts of the space, visiting the museum, galleries and attending art performances, talks and open studios.
“The residency also offered me a space to think more deeply about my work and career as a whole. While I was there, I was journaling a lot too,” shares Lila.
We also caught up with is Willy Karezeki, a self-taught visual artist represented by KomezART in Rwanda. He will who will be showcasing his craft in the new section of the fair called ALT.
This is a platform that offers artists outside of the conventional exhibition space a chance to showcase work in a nonconventional way in the art fair setting.
“For this exhibition, I'm really looking forward to putting Rwanda on the map” says Karezeki.
He adds: “I am looking forward to showcasing my work on such a big platform and to be able to work with other galleries.”
On how he interpreted this year’s theme to his work, Karezeki explains: “I think the world has been denying to see Africa as a connect. So, for this exhibition, I had the idea of rebranding Africa because Africa has a lot of stories to tell the world and that's what I want to show to the world.
“I also want to showcase the power of an African woman. African women have done a lot in this world and yet they are still not properly celebrated.”
Though he fell in love with art during his early childhood, Karezeki became a professional artist at the age of 17, where he developed his painting style.
Through his artworks, Karezeki has touched on various topics including issues of political and social instability and sexual gender-based violence at refugee camps in Rwanda and Uganda.
“There was a time l wanted to make an impact on my community, especially in the refugee camps because people in the camps don't have access to art,” says Karezeki.
He adds: “So I started hosting art classes for the people in refugee camps. I knew these people have their own unique stories that they wanted to share with the world, and what better way to do that than through art.”
Karezeki is currently doing a residency at 32 Degrees East art gallery in Kampala, Uganda in collaboration with a London School of Economics researcher entitled Politics of Return.
"In my mission to create myself I try to develop in my mind an image of my truth according to an idea, which I believe to be universal. I'm inspired by everyday life which connects me to the wider world,“ offers Karezeki.
The Investec Cape Town Art Fair will run from 18 to 20 February at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.