South Africa is a country rich in diverse cultures and a thriving arts scene. From contemporary exhibitions to traditional masterpieces, the country’s galleries offer a captivating blend of artistic expressions. Whether you’re an avid art enthusiast or simply seeking inspiration, here are five must-visit galleries in South Africa that showcase the country’s cultural tapestry, burgeoning cultural voices and creative brilliance.
1. BKhz – Johannesburg
Banele Khoza has established himself as a shining star through his distinctive artistic vision and groundbreaking approach to gallery curation. In the vibrant city of Johannesburg, Khoza owns and operates BKhz, a contemporary art gallery that embodies his unwavering dedication to showcasing emerging artists and amplifying fresh voices within the industry.
At BKhz, Khoza has cultivated a reputation for providing a platform to a diverse array of artists and embracing various artistic styles. His curatorial style is characterized by a profound exploration of themes such as identity, belonging, and social justice. Through thought-provoking exhibitions, Khoza challenges viewers to engage with complex issues in novel and unexpected ways, sparking meaningful conversations and fostering a deeper understanding of the world around us.
In addition to his role at BKhz, Khoza is a highly accomplished artist in his own right, having garnered numerous accolades throughout his career. In 2017, he was honored with the prestigious Gerard Sekoto Award, a testament to his exceptional talent and creative contributions. Furthermore, Khoza was recognized as one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in 2019, further solidifying his influence and impact on the contemporary art scene. His solo exhibitions have graced galleries and institutions across South Africa, as well as in esteemed locations such as France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Banele Khoza’s BKhz gallery serves as a dynamic hub that not only showcases cutting-edge artwork but also serves as a catalyst for artistic dialogue and societal introspection. Through his gallery and personal artistic endeavours, Khoza continues to leave an indelible mark on the South African art landscape, inspiring both emerging and established artists to push boundaries and redefine the artistic narrative.
Address: 21 Keyes Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg
2. KZNSA Gallery – Durban
In Durban’s bustling Glenwood neighbourhood, the KZNSA Gallery offers a platform for local artists to showcase their work and engage with the community. The gallery hosts regular exhibitions that feature a wide spectrum of artistic expressions, including painting, printmaking, textiles, and digital media.
The KZNSA gallery stands as a beacon of inclusivity, embodying its unwavering belief in equal access to art. With a commitment to free admission for all exhibitions and workshops, this gallery creates an environment that is open, inviting, and convivial. It serves as a public space that seamlessly connects the street to the park, where visitors can enjoy under-the-sky seating amidst indigenous acacia trees. The contemporary architecture of the building itself contributes to the gallery’s permeable, flexible, and resilient space, providing a platform for exhibition, creation, learning, and promotion.
Established in 1902, the KZNSA holds a prestigious position as KwaZulu-Natal’s premier contemporary gallery. It proudly showcases the works of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, serving as a reflection of the vibrant creative heart of the province. As a not-for-profit organization with 18A status, the gallery is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary arts and forms part of an extensive network of national institutions that actively foster and drive cultural change.
At its core, the KZNSA is a community of inclusivity, welcoming the public, educators, students, and artists to gather and share their common interests within the gallery’s unique and intimate space. In addition to exhibitions, some of which are curated by South African artists who made their debut at the gallery and have since achieved global recognition, the KZNSA offers artist-led educational initiatives, an annual gallery member fair, and opportunities for retail partnerships. These initiatives further amplify the gallery’s commitment to fostering a thriving arts community and facilitating meaningful connections between artists and their audiences.
Address: 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban
3. Christopher Moller Gallery – Cape Town
Christopher Moller Gallery has risen to become a prominent name in the realm of contemporary art. What began as a simple idea and an unwavering passion to support and empower artists has evolved over time into a celebrated establishment that fosters creativity and inspires art enthusiasts.
As art collectors themselves, they have developed a keen eye for excellence and a deep appreciation for quality. These principles serve as the foundation of the gallery’s ethos.
At the Christopher Moller Gallery, allegiance lies with their artists, with the aim to amplify their voices even further. They carefully select the most captivating and alluring artists whose work addresses relevant, thought-provoking, and powerful themes. By showcasing their creations, the gallery strives to initiate meaningful conversations and captivate the hearts and minds of their visitors.
The gallery space serves as a harmonious fusion of tradition and modernity. Housed in a beautiful Victorian home, it exudes an aura of elegance and sophistication. It provides a nurturing environment for artists to flourish, and it ignites the imagination of their visitors, allowing them to dream and connect with art on a profound level.
Address: 7 Kloofnek Rd, Cape Town, South Africa
4. Oliewenhuis Art Museum – Bloemfontein
Situated in a beautifully restored Neo-Dutch-style mansion, the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein provides a captivating journey through South Africa’s visual heritage. The museum showcases an extensive collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and installations by both established and emerging artists. The serene surrounding gardens and occasional outdoor exhibitions add to the overall charm and cultural experience of visiting this remarkable institution.
Address: 36 Aliwal Street, Bloemfontein.
5. Underculture Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery – Port Elizabeth
Located in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Underculture Contemporary operates as a dynamic art consultancy that encompasses an art gallery, agency, and mentorship program. With a comprehensive approach, it aims to cater to both a discerning urban audience and the development of artists, fostering technical excellence, conceptual depth, and professionalism.
At the core of Underculture’s mission are two guiding objectives. Firstly, it strives to promote and showcase high-quality contemporary fine art from selected emerging artists within the greater Nelson Mandela Bay metro and Eastern Cape region. Secondly, it serves as a reputable and reliable platform for nurturing and advancing the careers of promising local artists. Emphasizing their commitment to artistic innovation, Underculture Contemporary seeks to represent powerful, new, challenging, relevant, captivating, and fresh artistic expressions in every artistic output and artist they manage.
By integrating the diverse facets of an art gallery, agency, and mentorship program, Underculture Contemporary establishes itself as a multifaceted hub for artistic growth and expression. It offers a compelling space for art enthusiasts to engage with thought-provoking contemporary works while simultaneously fostering the development and promotion of emerging talents. Underculture Contemporary is dedicated to pushing boundaries, embracing the avant-garde, and facilitating meaningful connections between artists, their creations, and the community.
Featured image: Unsplash
Originally published in Getaway Magazine