Named after Jan van Riebeeck in 1661, Riebeek Kasteel is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and the Riebeek Valley is fast becoming a cultural hub and is now positioning itself as an ‘Arts Town’. A crucial element in this rebranding is Solo Studios; a two-day arts festival that invites visitors to ‘intimate art encounters’ with the many painters, sculptures, photographers, collectors and crafters who have made their lives in the romantically fruitful valley.
One of the main attractions of this year’s event was ‘Kunhuis’. Designed by Niel and Ashleigh Basson of Strukt Architects is best described as a “liveable art gallery in the heart of Riebeek-Kasteel”. With walls dripping with art from some of South Africa’s most notable artists, secluded spaces with sculptural marvels and skylights illuminating every corner – except the wine cellar – it is a wondrous maze of curation that is utterly captivating and deserving of its name.
Strolling through the quintessentially South African dorp-like streets, one could breeze into the homes and studios of the 18 participating artists, including Ade Kipades, Jacky Lloyd, Kevan Moses, Riaan van Zyl, Tanya Majo, Lizette Visser and Andre Francois van Vuuren. Entering an artist’s studio is a reverential experience; to be encouraged to engage with the artist in their space transforms the experience into something far more profound. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to question Ade Kipades on how he creates his boldly colourful pieces. To explore how Lizette Visser intuitively uses colour and texture to investigate her reactions to her surroundings and to learn the motivation behind Riaan van Zyl’s quest to create movement in the static.
Solo Studios delivered on its promise – and not just for the visitors. By Sunday afternoon, red dots accompanied a myriad of artworks (keep a look out for one of Ade Kipades‘ works in a Nandos fast food restaurant near you), artists and gallery owners were exhaustedly elated, and the town was a buzz. It’s safe to say that ‘Arts Town’ is alive with creativity and is undoubtedly the settling place for South African artists looking for an artistic immersion with a strong sense of community. You best believe I’ll be back in 2023 for another weekend of intimate encounters.
Further reading and sources
Botha, Lynette. “Art House”. Visi, edition 121, August/September, 104 – 115.
Solo Studios and subscribe for information regarding the 2023 edition
Follow Ade Kipades on Instagram
Follow Lizette Visser on Instagram
Follow Riaan van Zyl on Instagram