Melvyn Minnaar: Home of Krone celebrates art
By Melvyn Minnaar, 1 March 2023
A few weeks ago, just before the big art makitty known as the Investec Cape Town Arts Fair took place, some very lucky people sat down for a rather fun lunch. They were at the Twee Jonge Gezellen wine estate outside Tulbagh in one of the most beautiful landscapes. Good food and smart sparkling wines were served to this gathering of VIPs.
Twee Jonge Gezellen is, of course, the home for Krone Cap Classique. In a perfect marketing pitch the focus shifted to high-end sparkling wine when Vinimark came on board as the well-known Krone wine family sold up. N.C. Krone was a pioneer, and bubbly appeal was growing at a pace.
Behind all this is Abigail Rands, daughter of the late Tim, and she has polished the cultural stance at TJG most elegantly.
To wit, this was the allure for the visitors: the VIP’s journey there was inspired and prompted by art.
Nominated VIPs by the organisers of the art fair, these doubtless high-end collectors and/or enthusiastic art groupies were also given a sussed introduction to a neat art exhibition currently on show at this, one of the oldest wine estates in the country.
The super art show is set up in the farm’s purposed gallery spaces, but also spreads out deep into the ancient cellar and the outside walkway. It seems to elevate the already ambience-loaded environment (some of the building dates back centuries) with a finely-tuned modern cultural grace. For the works have been smartly chosen.
“Curated” has become such a cliché these days that I hesitate, but curators Heinrich Groenewald and Shona van der Merwe, who operate independently under the banner Reservoir, did a marvellous job. They have titled the show, which features a delightfully diverse range of 24 artists, Seeds of the Fig (open until 29 April).
The title’s somewhat enigmatic metaphoric urge may tickle the visitor’s imagination, yet the reward is really in the personal experience of and with these mostly strong, space-invasive sculptural works. Art not only to intrigue, admire, but to contemplate.
Pieces by sculptor Richard Forbes, crafted in the classic material of an ancient artistic medium – Carrara marble – positioned in metal ‘baths’ filled with water – come across as markers celebrating the endeavours of the farm: quiet points to ponder, like stations in a chapel, the meaning of making wine here. Both landscape and agricultural heritage is honoured by the placings.
The celebrated Ghananian artist Ibrahim Mahama’s installation of enormous coffin-like ‘containers’ (made for the 2020 Stellenbosch Triennale there) is a mini monument to the industry, the back stories and workers behind the consumer products (such as the fancy wines of the estate). Constructed from recycled crate material, it plays an ironic game with our perception of grand sculpture.
To this Unathi Mkonto’s Flat Sheet Study II, comprising cardboard, paper, wood and Velcro, makes an engaging counterpoint. The materials reflect exactly the packaging material that finds profitable use around the corner where vast numbers of boxes of Krone Cap Classique are prepared for the market. Here too, the delightful gamer of ‘sculpting’.
Mkonto worked on this piece while he held an art residency here on the Twee Jonge Gezellen farm. Another artist who worked here for a while is Sanell Aggenbach. Her piece Foreverandevermore is one of the show’s gems.
The art venture here at Twee Jongen Gezellen is truly inspiring, both the generosity of the public gallery and the artist residency space – in association with Cape Town’s Whatiftheworld Gallery.
Tasting the top-end Krone wines with winemaker Stephan de Beer as a kind of pitstop through the fine exhibition, it is the individuality of expression – so apparent in the art – that reminds one what talent is.
I, for one, thought De Beer’s unusual Krone Amphora Cap Classique 2020 in exactly that league.
- Melvyn Minnaar has written about art and wine for various local and international publications over the years. The creativity that underpins these subjects is an enduring personal passion. He has served on a few “cultural committees”.
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