Local artists push buttons and boundaries on social media


Local artists push buttons and boundaries on social media

The shift to online viewing and buying has opened up new markets for art in Africa

James Sey

A major shift is under way in SA art circles. It’s a boringly obvious observation that Covid-19 and global lockdowns have moved much of human society online, but this has affected the art market in interesting ways.

Traditionally the industry has depended on human interaction and events such as gallery openings, art fairs and auctions. But moving the whole shebang online has provided the means for emerging artists without established galleries to reach their audiences directly through social media channels. It has also opened up new ways of viewing and buying art, and opened up new markets — art from Africa in particular. It means a permanent change in the local art business, and a range of new opportunities for art world players who are ahead of the curve.

For emerging SA artists, social media in particular is a savvy marketing tool to reach audiences who are by default no longer hung up about buying art they haven’t seen in the flesh. Teresa Firmino has successfully exhibited her striking paintings and multimedia works locally, which deal with racialised and sexualised histories. She is about to have her first solo show in London. “I only post my work on Instagram, as many of my collectors and peers also use the same platform. Like everyone else, I had many group shows and art fairs online last year, so Instagram made sense.”..

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