A group of Chicago-based art buyers has been touring the Eastern Cape in search of talented artists to showcase their artwork at an exhibition at the Guichard art gallery in Chicago later this year.
Andre and Francis Guichard met local township artists across the Nelson Mandela Bay region who specialise in fine art, ranging from painting to sculpture and beadwork.
The aim of the artists’ two-week trip, which was initiated and arranged by Tradepoint South Africa, has been to expose young local artists to the opportunities offered in the US art market and to develop them as emerging exporters. The two artists arrived in the country two weeks ago.
A study has shown that 40% of the Chicago population is of African origin and the Guichards said they were keen to strengthen their linkages back to the continent.
“The artwork that we have seen has been above my expectations in terms of quality and diversity”, said Andre
“The artists use various mediums and themes to capture the social issues in their art pieces, which they are using to uplift the Eastern Cape,” said Francis Guichard.
David Hamer, manager of Tradepoint SA Nelson Mandela Bay, said:
“This visit from Chicago is just the tip of the iceberg. Local fine artists produce work of a standard that ranks highly on the world stage. Their work is immensely appealing to international buyers and if Tradepoint can facilitate that process, enabling local artists to exhibit their work and by doing so raise the profile of South African art, then it can only bode well for the future in terms of both the art work and international trade.”
Andre Guichard said Tradepoint has enabled them to observe the culture of the Eastern Cape in a way which “would not have been possible if we had planned this trip on our own”.
“We are looking forward to the reaction of the US audience when they feast their eyes on the talent from Nelson Mandela Bay.”
The trip by the Chicago artist will culminate in the selection of 16 local township artists who will have selected works from their art pieces exported to Chicago for an exhibition in September, which will include up to four township fine artists who will represent different artistic disciplines such as sculpture, collage and paint, both representational and expressionist.