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See Artist Githan Coopoo Launch CLUB ART, a Dreamy Escape Where Art and Food Collide

CLUB ART is Cape Town’s latest exciting collaboration between one of the city’s coolest restaurants and local creative talent

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By Kimberley Schoeman  | February 22, 2024 | Art

In conversation with Michael Carter, Creative Director of Club Kloof — Cape Town’s Italian-inspired mecca for sartorial cool kids and epicureans — South African artist Githan Coopoo chats about his works at CLUB ART, the inaugural artist collaboration series at Club Kloof.

Githan Coopoo: Michael, talk to us about CLUB ART, an initiative that blurs the boundaries between art, food and design. What is the intention behind the programme?

An immersive customer experience has always been our focus with Club Kloof - food is a huge part, but there is so much more you can do to elevate the experience. From colour to smell to music to subtle unnoticeable touches - all set to stimulate the senses to evoke an emotion and memorable experience. Art forms such a huge part of this process - from endless inspiration to driving the narrative and setting the tone - using art in our space delivers, and we loved the idea of using the walls as a gallery.

The concept is not new, but we are having a lot of fun doing it, and who does not love a photo op?

Githan Coopoo reveals three new paintings at CLUB ART, as additions to body of work which normally focusses on sculpture. Photography by Jesse Fine.

GC: You have curated a specific aesthetic at Club Kloof. What style of art do you see living most seamlessly in the space?

To be honest we are creating this project as we go, and that is part of what is exciting, but if we had to define a style now, it would be fun, not serious, and tonally cheeky.

Githan embodies everything we want to support with collaborations going forward.

GC: How will the rotation of CLUB ART artists work?

The artwork will be up for three months at a time, and one piece will be owned by Club Kloof, and the other two available for purchase directly through the artist. After the three months period, the buyers will be able to collect their pieces, and we repeat.

GC: How does the food become a designed extension of the social space you are creating?

For the launch event, we are trying some new things combined with classic favourites from Club Kloof - playing with scale and how it is displayed.

Club Kloof signature arancini served at CLUB ART. Photography by Jesse Fine.

GC: What are your thoughts on the dining experience as a means of escaping into another world for a few hours?

Dining today has to be more than sustenance - it is about a transformative experience, a brief escape from normal life. A place to dream, create a memory, have fun and express yourself. Close your eyes for a second and take in the vibe.

GC: If you had to describe the energy of Club Kloof in three words, what would it be?

Adventurous, untamed, electric.

Michael Carter: Githan, your practice rooted its foundations in clay, journeying from jewellery into sculpture. What attracted you to the medium?

In this medium, I found a relationship with myself. Clay, as an active site of architecture on the body or free standing form, amplified and acted as a vehicle for my understanding of my fragility, vulnerability, patience and resilience. It has memory and agency. It is a teacher.

Rushda Moosajee aka RushTush at CLUB ART. Photography by Jesse Fine.

MC: A recent Financial Times article spoke of your work as “a joyful mash-up of pop culture, mythology and queer references that swing from humour to tragedy to social commentary.” What inspires you to keep creating?

I never fully understand myself or others. There is a deep longing to continue unearthing universal synergies through my work and creation. The act of making is my most consistent grounding in the world. In such a way, my practice has become a personal mythology that continues to make sense of and give greater meaning to my life.

James Baldwin and the Kardashians, Fashion and the lack of real Fashion in the world at present, 11-year-olds obsessed with Retinol. We can find humour and introspection in everything ― Artist Githan Coopoo on what inspires him
Dining today has to be more than sustenance - it is about a transformative experience, a brief escape from normal life. Photography by Jesse Fine.

MC: How have you found the migration from sculpture to canvas?

I have challenged myself. It’s been strange to negotiate the process without guidance beyond my train of thought. Just the shift to entirely 2D flatness is a tsunami all its own. But I am happy. It is the beginning of something new. I have embraced my status as a novice in this medium and that has served me well.

MC: Let’s talk about the Club Kloof CLUB ART programme. What attracted you to the project?

Honestly, Michael, the co-owner. As a supporter of my work in the past, he understands how I think, and I feel a great deal of respect for him. He embraces my practice and understands me.

This process of sharing something new is deeply vulnerable, and I wouldn’t have moved to do it without confidence shared and given by another. Michael has put a lot of love into this project, and I am so grateful for that. Club Kloof, as an institution, isn’t scared of being loud and I admire that. I am often fearful about making too much noise - then I remember who I am.

It is a great privilege to be the inaugural CLUB ART artist, and I look forward to seeing how patrons of the space engage with my work there.

One of three paintings by Githan Coopoo revealed at the launch of CLUB ART. Photography by Jesse Fine.

MC: What can you tell us about the three pieces you have selected to show in the space?

I am sharing three new paintings that embrace a genre I have created, or rather that they have created in being made: photo-op painting. Youth culture has seen contemporary gallery spaces turn into studios for photo shoots, and I think it’s incredible.

I love that this is a new form of access and art engagement brought on by technology and the need to produce an archive. Far from the classical masters, whose works required a pilgrimage to witness, one could say these three paintings for CLUB ART are created to be viewed through a camera lens.

Almost like backup dancers on the wall, they were made for the perfect photo opportunity, to make you feel like the best version of yourself. I believe in greater access to art and artist’s practices. I believe in a less rigid industry with far fewer elitisms, both academic or otherwise, and I believe in art as a modality of healing for everyone.

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