Solo Studios 2023: A Weekend Art + Culture Experience in the Riebeek Valley

Published 02 August 2023 in Press

Close encounters of the creative kind.

For a small country town Riebeek-Kasteel has way more than its fair share of resident artists. The beauty of the surroundings is a large part of its appeal – olive groves, vineyards and yellow swathes of canola fields in winter spread out below its majestic mountain, creating a real-life landscape painting in which to immerse yourself.

The town’s historic and quirky buildings and its sleepy rural peacefulness add to the attraction, along with the creative spirit of the residents. Many celebrated South African talents call it home, earning it the nickname “Arts Town” – a moniker it lives up to in consummate style when the Solo Studios event rolls into town each year.

Intimate art encounters

For an entire weekend, local artists open their working studios to art lovers and aficionados, allowing them into their private workspaces and homes, and offering fascinating insight into their creative process.

Solo Studios: Emma Willemse

There are 17 solo exhibitions in studios, including nine collaborations with guest artists from outside the valley, and eight group exhibitions in galleries and public spaces. The purpose-built Kunshuis, a most unlikely space in a small country town, is a must-visit.

The festival hub in Short Street conveniently has an exhibition featuring one signature work from each participating artist on display. Come here first, see what appeals most and then head out. You can explore on your own, or join the guided walkabouts of the studios and exhibitions (with a Premier Weekend Pass), which are conveniently arranged in four “loops”.

“We pride ourselves on creating an easy-going, social and joyful atmosphere, while catering to the tastes of avid art collectors,” says Solo Studios co-founder Klaus Piprek. “We want to eliminate all the hassle and amplify the fun.” 

The event offers an authentic experience for art lovers and a wonderful opportunity for serious collectors, who come here to buy directly from the artists – many of whose works can now be found in collections around the world.

There’s nothing like seeing working drawings taped to a wall next to a huge canvas, or pots of brushes and palettes piled on a work surface as you chat to the artist, to make the artistic process come alive. Conversations about technique and the stories behind the works create an extra level of connection.

Solo Studios: Lizette Visser

There’s more…

It’s not only paintings, drawings, printwork, sculpture and photography. There’s a selection of art films (a first for the event), live performance-art and work by a new-music composer. In addition, the programme includes a series of Thought Leadership talks on topics such as curating, the future of artists and AI. 

Special screenings of Blind Ambition, the documentary about the Zimbabwean sommeliers attending the 2017 World Blind Wine Tasting Championship in France, will be followed by a blind tasting with team captain Joseph Dhafana – whose life-changing journey into wine started in Riebeek-Kasteel.

Solo Studios: Riaan van Zyl

The Valley en fête

Solo Studios: Steelband

While the studio visits are the main event, the town will be alive with happenings: the local kids’ steel band, street performances, community projects (don’t miss the fantastical recycled art at the POP Centre in Riebeek West), and the delicious distractions of cosy coffee shops and cafés, impromptu tastings of Swartland wines and browsing boutiques and vintage stores.When 18  20 August 2023

Times Friday preview, 10am  5pm
Saturday, 9am  5pm
Sunday, 9am – 3pm
Contact 074 209 6838, [email protected]
Where to find it Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, Riebeek Valley

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