The eighth edition of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair is taking the city by storm from February 14 to 16. Collectors, art galleries, artists, curators and other agents from the art world will gather in the African country to celebrate one of the continent’s most prestigious and renowned art fairs, which year after year, strengthens its position as one of the leading art events in the world. 
Coinciding as well with the Stellenbosch Triennale, which opened on February 11 and will last until April 30, South Africa is becoming the place-to-be for art lovers these days. With a packed programme of talks, performances and, of course, different sections across the Cape Town International Convention Centre – where it’s taking place –, we recommend you some artists you can’t miss when going through the endless aisles of booths.

Johno Mellish
The young South African photographer (born in 1991), represented by THK Gallery, is currently having an exhibition at the gallery together with painter Nyasha Marovatsanga. Also exhibiting at the fair, his work combines history, memory and imagination to create “images through the use of constructed photography”, THK explains. “His photographs are a response to histories and personal imaginings, both of which meditate on place and time particular to South Africa”, they continue. Working with source material he finds in the news or books as the starting point, Mellish collaborates with many people on large-scale pictures that find a midpoint between natural and artificial, real and unreal.
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Kirsten Sims
Illustrating everyday life scenes on the beach, in the park or other wonderful natural environments, Kirsten Sims is a one to watch. Having collaborated with magazines like Apartamento or Fashion & Arts, having previously exhibited at other art fairs (like the previous edition of Investec Cape Town Art Fair or Joburg Art Fair), and also working on commercial commissions for brands like Honest Chocolate, the South African illustrator is slowly but determinedly conquering the art world with her naive, fun and colourful style.
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Mary Sibande
Through sculpture, photography, painting and fashion design, Mary Sibande has become one of the most renowned artists from South Africa. After landing a massive solo show at London’s Somerset House – which lasted until the 5th of January of this year – and having exhibited in other major art institutions and fairs (like New York’s The Armory Show), Sibande is telling her personal story and that of South Africa (especially Apartheid) through a wide range of techniques and expressions. Identity and representation are key pillars in her work, which she combines with an exquisite use of colour, hyperrealist sculptures, and costume design. Discover her work at Smac Gallery’s booth.
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Nigatu Tsehay
The work of the Ethiopian painter has pure emotion and expression at its core. As Andrew Lamprecht from Art Times put it when writing about his work, “No photograph, indeed no other medium of art (and Tsehay does work in other media, for example animation) could, in my view, possibly convey the complex and dense emotional energy that one finds in his paintings. Each appears to be a tightly wound spring that at any time could unwind and release its embedded force.”
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Andrew Gilbert
The Scottish artist is landing in Cape Town via Italian art gallery Cellar Contemporary. although he’s visited South Africa many times to study some of the country’s battlefields – like the Anglo-Zulu War or the Boer War. Interpreting the history of European colonialism in his paintings, work on paper and mixed-media sculptures in a satyrical way, Andrew Gilbert subverts the long-lasting symbols of the British Empire and clichés of Orientalism and exoticism. Putting his military characters in ridiculous situations and outfits – almost resembling drag –, he mocks all-things nationalist, imperialist and colonialist while also questioning Western art history.
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Fatoumata Diabaté
Through black-and-white photographs, Senegal-based artist Fatoumata Diabaté focuses on portraying women and the youth. Originally from Bamako (Mali), Diabaté has completed various series focusing on social issues like Femmes d’Accra or Maliens de Paris, or in-depth photographic reportages like L’alphabétisation and Mali au Féminin. Currently working on Studio Photo de la Rue, the Malian photographer has set up a photographic studio in the middle of the street to interrupt passers-by in order to connect with them, take their portraits and know their stories, in a nod or tribute to past renowned photographers like Malick Sidibé or Seidou Keita.
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Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga
Born in Kampala (Uganda), Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga has been working in painting, printing and conceptual art for more than two decades. An advocate for the international recognition of African art expressions and artists, he’s a member of the East African art group Index Mashariki, of the Pan African Circle of Artists (PACA) and of the Ugandan Artists Association. In addition, he coined the term ‘indigenous expressionism’, which describes his personal work best.
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Meriem Bouderbala
One of the current leading Arab women artists, Tunis-born Meriem Bounderbala reflects on female representation, especially the female body, through her art. With a French-Tunisian upbringing and influence, Bounderbala’s approach is an attempt to fuse Eastern and Western visions together in her own perception of the representation of the body, which she translates into distorted photographs including nudity, fragility and the figure of the Bedouin. In 2010, she was awarded the prestigious title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
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Amber Moir
Using watercolour but approaching it from a more experimental perspective, Cape Town-based artist Amber Moir explores alternative ways to traditional printmaking techniques. Talking about her creative process, she states. “The challenges within my process create space for the works to acquire greater meaning and be more successful than if it were predictable and easily controlled.” Inspired by nature – sometimes resembling Monet’s famous Water Lilies, for example –, her colour palette ranges from green and blue to pastel pink or orange, turning the canvases into beautiful artworks.
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Alastair Whitton
With an ongoing solo show at Barnard Gallery (until February 26), the black-and-white photographer will be also exhibiting at the fair. Portraying Cape Town through his very personal architecture-focused lens, Whitton refers to his work as ‘the mechanisms of memory and the mapping of geographies’. As the gallery explains, “His photographs celebrate the seemingly commonplace and are in effect ‘monuments to the dislocated and overlooked’.”
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