Art in Print

Leading South African artist Esther Mahlangu is on a mission to raise global awareness of her culture

Esther Mahlangu is a South African Ndebele artist. She is known for her bold large-scale contemporary paintings that reference her Ndebele heritage. She was announced as the 2016 Minister’s Award winner at a gala event held in the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Mahlangu’s colourful Ndebele designs have been exhibited around the world and have graced global brands such as BMW, British Airways, Fiat and Belvedere luxury vodka, placing South African traditional art and design on the international map.
To keep with tradition, she only ever paints her designs with chicken feathers or sticks and uses pigments from her surroundings, such as black from river mud. Speaking before her work is shown in a major exhibition of South African art at the British Museum, Mahlangu said that she was proud to help promote her culture and her tribe.
 She said: “Most people have never experienced Ndebele culture. My life’s work is showing people my culture. [It is] my small gesture of protecting Ndebele from dying out.” The artist said she hoped her work would inspire the next generation of artists. “I want to give to children so they have the passion about art that I have and the process continues.”
She will be coming to London for the first time to see the British Museum’s South Africa: The Art of a Nation exhibit, which opens on October 27.
Via The Evening Standard


Malick Sidibé

  DarkRoom pop-up in Somerset House Bookshop
The first solo exhibition in the UK of the late Malian photographer has proven to be a great success with a 5 star review by Chris Waywell. The Sidibé show, at Somerset House, was a special project at the fourth edition of the contemporary African art fair 1:54 London which ran from 6-9 October. His exhibition continues till the 15th of January 2017.
At a time when the West was fretting about whether photography was even an art form, Malick Sidibé was taking pictures of young people in Bamako which contain all the issues in that debate: authenticity, imitation, control of the image. Not because he was a theorist, but because all of those issues were also central to the newly emerging country. 
With a brilliant soundtrack curated by Rita Ray, this show envelopes the watcher and makes you wonder what hardships lie outside the frame, what kind of future these kids found in the ’80s, the ’90s, the 2000s. They must be old, or dead. For now, though, and for ever, they are all intensely, radiantly alive. 
Via TimeOut

Art Sales: Iranian and Modern art uphold struggling Middle Eastern market

The London season of Islamic art sales appeared to get off to a flying start at Bonhams last week with the sale of a 1927 figurative painting of a mother and child on a donkey by the revered Egyptian artist, Mahmoud Said, for 10 times its estimate at £1.2 million. Six bidders competed for the work, including three museums, one of which, in Qatar, emerged the winner, outgunning the yet to be built Beirut Museum of Art. It was the highest price, said Bonhams, for any Middle Eastern art work sold outside the region. But does it also herald a renaissance in this market which has been struggling since the 2008/09 recession?
 “The market has been fairly rocky due to local instability,” concedes Nima Sagharchi, of Bonhams. “Where  it is strong is for Iranian art, and for modern as opposed to contemporary art.”     
“With the recession and collapse in the price of oil, contemporary art buyers  from the worlds of advertising, property and banking fell away,” says Charles Pocock, of the Meem Gallery in Dubai. “There have been debt problems too – it all relates to the price of oil. What happened then was that museums and institutions became the main buyers, looking more at older, neglected modern artists from the 1920s to the 1980s.”
Sotheby’s has the thinnest catalogue of modern and contemporary Arab and Iranian works – just 50 lots compared to over 100 each at Bonhams and Christie’s, but with a pre-sale estimate the same as Bonhams at £1.6 million. By holding their sale alongside traditional Islamic works of art, an exquisite Indian miniature collection (a watercolour of a stork once owned by Jacqueline Kennedy is a star lot), and modern Indian paintings, they hope that an element of cross over buying by collectors in each discipline will lift the sale results.
Via The Telegraph


In Paris, 8 New Tours, From Art to Shopping

Peak tourist season in Paris is winding down, but several new and innovative tours in the city are keeping it a vibrant destination in the fall and winter too.
How about taking a private tour of the under-the-radar Musée Jacquemart-André, a jewel box of a museum in an ornate 19th-century mansion near the Champs-Élysées, is available with the registered guide and art expert Jean-Jacques Serres. This former estate of Nélie Jacquemart and Edouard André, a couple who were passionate art lovers, houses their collection of works by renowned artists like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Rembrandt (two hours, 150 euros for up to five people).
The old and new come together with the excursion for guests of the hotel Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris. The property’s art concierge, Julie Eugene, who has a degree in contemporary art, takes visitors to Château de Vincennes, on the outskirts of Paris, to see “Noir Éclair,” an exhibition by the French street artist Zevs. There, Ms. Eugene leads them through the chateau, which was the heart of the French monarchy until the 17th century and was later used as a prison, to see his thought-provoking paintings, sculptures and videos, many of which are inspired by the castle’s history. This runs until 29 January and prices are from 250 euros; hotel room rates from 780 euros.
In the Saint-Germain des Prés neighborhood on the city’s Left Bank, a customized shopping tour from Sacrebleu Paris  is led by the company’s founder, Stephanie Boutet-Fajol. The itinerary includes stops at small apothecaries selling beauty products not available in the United States and boutiques stocked with clothes and accessories from up-and-coming French designers.The tour lasts three and a half hours and costs 490 euros for up to three people.
Via The New York Times

Photographs of Desperate Shadows Cast by the California Sun

Concealed by bedraggled vegetation alongside a freeway, the path would beckon to Anthony Hernandez; and like an urban archaeologist, he’d venture forth to find, in a clearing beneath a sheltering overpass, the traces of an unknown civilization: hundreds of cigarette butts, food in a plastic bag suspended from a tree, a chair constructed from two slabs of plasterboard.
The homeless people who slept there would be out scavenging. And in their absence, Mr. Hernandez would set up his camera and tripod, and record the scene in sharply detailed colour images that are both forensic and poetic.
Those photographs, from a series he calls “Landscapes for the Homeless,” make up a small section of a revelatory exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that runs through 1 January. It is the first career retrospective for Mr. Hernandez, 69, who for half a century has been compiling a singular record of his hometown. Los Angeles appears on countless rolls of photographic film, but the terrain Mr. Hernandez travels is largely unexplored.
“I grew up taking pictures in downtown L.A., because this was my neighbourhood, it was someplace I know, the poor places of L.A. — Compton, South Central, Watts,” Mr. Hernandez, a modest, engaging man, said in San Francisco. No one questioned him. “It helps to have brown skin,” he said.
People have been so taken by the sunshine noir Hollywood version of Los Angeles that’s become the narrative – fast cars and beautiful blondes in bikinis,” said Erin O’Toole, the associate curator of photography at the museum, known as SFMOMA, who organized the show. “The Los Angeles of the poor, the working class and people of color is what Tony knows.”
The Hernandez retrospective is the first solo exhibition installed in the Pritzker Center of Photography, a vast expanse in the museum’s annex, which opened this year. Covering 15,000 square feet, the new galleries almost triple the display space dedicated to photography and make a strong case that SFMOMA has supplanted New York’s Museum of Modern Art as the pre-eminent American museum showcase for the 175-year-old discipline of photography.
Boasting an unsurpassed collection of California photography, the San Francisco Museum makes a fitting space for the show. “When the museum began in the ‘30s, the local artists were the photographers”, Ms. Philipps said. “Photography has been the region’s main artistic contribution.”
Since the days of the ’49ers, California photographers have portrayed the mutual damage inflicted by the forbidding landscape and the successive waves of rapacious fortune-hunters. Mr. Hernandez’s pictures add a poignant twist to the tale.
Via The New York Times