Inspired by Africa and its people, German-born designer Patrizia Litty co-owns an art gallery in Franschhoek as well as a bespoke jewellery design and manufacture business in Kalk Bay.
The gallery, ODA, focuses on providing a platform for young, up & coming artists to display side-by-side with more established names and is currently hosting a Pan African exhibition featuring 17 artists from 6 countries across the continent. The exhibition runs from February to April 17.
Her jewellery line, ANPA, has a unique design focus on unusual and coloured precious gems and has an on-site smithing workshop where jewellery is produced.
The Gallery has an unusual name, ODA | objekt.design.art. What does the name mean?
To reinforce our core principle that the artist and his/her work are the centre of attention and not the gallerist, we decided to depart from the traditional manner in which galleries are named after the owner/curator. “Objekt” is consciously written with a K as the meaning is more comprehensive in German and also refers to my German roots.
In my view, OBJEKT, DESIGN and ART are closely linked and in a modern context, even interchangeable. In this digital age, the borders between different disciplines begin to melt as artists use 3D technology to create or modify sculptures, and designers grab a paint brush to artistically add to their work. The traditional model of an “art gallery” needs to be revisited and transformed in order for galleries to remain relevant over the next 20 years.
Why did you select Franschhoek as a base?
Franschoek offers an entire world within a nutshell. Both national as well as international visitors will frequent this gem of a place due to its scenic beauty, impressive culinary offerings and European style shopping on a visually pleasing high street. The village lends itself perfectly to establish a business that involves luxury and culture.
Which clientele do you cater to?
We tend to attract South African collectors that are either focusing on finding young, unknown artists or collectors that search for specially curated works by established artists. Many works go to overseas buyers who tap into the emerging South African art market either as investors or simply as art lovers. ODA’s main international markets are the UK, Switzerland and Germany. Secondary markets include the USA, Russia and Dubai.
What sets your gallery apart from its peers?
We focus on the artist. Driven by our love of art, we establish close relationships and try to support artists beyond ODA. We do not host an endless array of artists or shows, but rather focus on a small, select group. I believe art is a form of story-telling which is such a strong element within an African context. Hence, for me, it is impossible to simply show only one work by an artist – there needs to be at least 2 or 3 pieces to fulfill the idea of “telling a story”.
What do you look for in artists/How do you select whom to feature?
Many people (even gallerists) tend to conflate the notion of art that they like with good art. Art that I like might not be good art and could be on display in the gallery on a tiny scale. The main focus remains on presenting good art which for me follows a clear definition:
- The artist needs to spend extensive time on working to develop the craft (preferably full-time).
- The artist needs to be recognizable, that is, have a distinct own handwriting, completely different from anybody else out there.
- Art needs to be the voice of what is happening NOW, right out there or at least run a commentary on either global developments or a closer to home environment.
ODA specializes in contemporary art and not at all on artists that have left this earth. We also stay away from art that has a large commercial or cliché element to it, i.e. no big five paintings.
What should buyers look for when buying art as an investment?
- Spread the portfolio is wide as possible – chances of hitting a jackpot will definitely increase.
- Follow good art – refrain from buying art that would match the living room curtains.
- Get a sense of what’s out there – spend time visiting galleries, art fairs, artist studios, etc. Select a few galleries that make sense on a personal level and stick to them.
- Be wary of art consultants and stay away from “art bubbles”.
Images courtesy of ODA
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