South Africa has declared a nationwide lockdown that will be in force until at least the start of May. In these anxious times it feels like now more than ever there’s a deep need for contemporary arts and culture to keep our minds calm and help us see the strange situation which we now find ourselves in through different eyes.
As the nation is required to go online instead of outside, South Africa’s art galleries and artists are showcasing contemporary art online in creative new ways including presenting virtual tours, online exhibition launches, hosting online art lectures and organising online art exhibitions where you can view and buy art online.
Here are some inspiring online art events to look out for this month.
From April 30 Goodman Gallery launches a new online viewing room dedicated to one of South Africa’s most famous artists William Kentridge. ‘Something Has Been Postponed’ highlights Kentridge’s distinct approach to making in the studio – making drawings, making objects and making sense. For the artist, the studio “becomes a place where the world is invited in. There are images stuck up on the walls, thoughts coming in, conversations coming in, pieces read, images seen in art-historical books, films seen …”
Don’t miss Kentridge’s first appearance on Instagram on Thursday April 30 at 18:00 as he goes live on the Goodman Gallery Insta channel presenting an exclusive look around what he has been up to in his Joburg studio during lockdown.
“A studio is a sacred place,” declares artist El Anatsui, “that you come to do some reflection and thinking.” An escape from outside distractions, the artist studio environment fosters experimentation, problem-solving, and creative growth and August House, with its dozens of artist studios spread over several floors of a downtown Art Deco building, is one of South Africa’s most exciting artistic spaces.
The Studio is a Sacred Space is an innovative online exhibition platform that is August House’s response to having to cancel their most recent planned Open Studio Day due to the nationwide lockdown. The online exhibition runs from Tuesday April 14 until Monday May 11 and features dozens of exciting new works by upcoming and established August House artists including Themba Khumalo, Bambo Sibiya and Vusi Beauchamp – all of which are on sale.
Founded by world-renowned South African artist William Kentridge, The Centre for the Less Good Idea is one of Joburg’s most exciting new cultural projects of recent years.
The ‘centre’ is hosted at Kentridge’s expansive artist studio in the Arts on Main building in Maboneng. A non-commercial collaborative space, it brings together artists, musicians, poets, dancers, actors and filmmakers who all work in the city of Joburg. The Centre for the Less Good Idea’s aim is to support experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts projects and give artists the breathing space to try out new things.
The seventh season of performances hosted at The Centre was due to happen in the first week of April and instead the performances were presented online. Fortunately, The Centre had time to prepare and recorded the majority of its planned performances in HD before the lockdown started.
All recordings of the six programmes of performances from Season 7 are now available to watch online and include insightful introductions from William Kentridge and the featured artists. They are an absolute treat to watch!
Since premiering the performances of Season 7, the centre has continued to share new works on Instagram and Facebook in a new series called The Long Minute, which sees alumni of the past seven seasons and three years of programming at The Centre sharing fresh minute long video works which are shared on social media.
Watch all performances from Season 7 on the Centre for the Less Good Idea website and on their Vimeo pages.
Russell Kaplan’s auctions are notable for Kaplan’s eclectic and exquisite taste. In the days just before an auction his Randburg showroom is transformed into a veritable Aladdin’s Cave with a glittering collection of unusual period furniture, antiques, elaborately framed artworks, beautiful vintage jewellery and luxurious carpets all on display.
For the first time ever Russell Kaplan will host a live online auction on April 25 and 26. The first auction session happens on Saturday April 25 from 09:00 with jewellery, silver, glassware, ceramics, collectables, furniture, carpets and light fittings going under the hammer. On Sunday April 26 the auction house hosts the fine art auction from 10:00.
Go to https://bidlive.rkauctioneers.co.za to browse the auction now and register to bid. You can submit ‘pre-bids’ with a set amount you’d like to bid for a lot, as well as absentee bids.
The Lockdown Collection (TLC) is an online initiative formed by Sirdar Group, Mrs Woolf and Artist Proof Studio to support individual artists, a fund for vulnerable artists whose livelihoods are a stake, as well as to contribute to the national SA Solidarity Fund set up by the government.
The initiative has so far raised R2 000 000 with its Lockdown Collection Auction which took place on April 19, marking 21 days of lockdown and 21 works of art. Each day of the first lockdown period in South Africa saw a new work created by a South African artist, speaking directly to the crisis that the world is currently facing. The works have been shared on social media (on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) accompanied by a message from the artist explaining what inspired them. They are worth visiting. Since the auction The Lockdown Collection announced an official open call for artworks for an ongoing initiative to continue with fundraising efforts. This came about because of the interest the project ignited among a broad range of artists.
If you’d like to know more or you are an artist eager to submit a work, go to www.thelockdowncollection.com/open-call
Tune in to these South African art podcasts
David Krut Projects One of South Africa’s finest art galleries, specialising in fine art printmaking, David Krut Projects has its own podcast, where artists talk about their works and inspiration. http://davidkrutprojects.com/category/news/podcasts
Anthea Pokroy Launched by Joburg based artist, photographer and co-founder of the Assemblage artist studio, Anthea Pokroy, this podcast is packed with interviews and debates about contemporary art in South Africa, led by the artists themselves. https://unframedpodcast.com/about/
Art Meets Tv produced a brilliant feature-length documentary film for SMAC Gallery about the South African painter Simon Stone, which you can now watch online for free on youtube!
The latest exhibition by Cape Town contemporary art gallery Southern Guild will see 30% of the sales price of artworks will go directly to local non-profit organisation Afrika Tikkun, which is working to supply food and essentials to vulnerable families in the Gauteng townships of Alexandra, Diepsloot and Orange Farm, as well as Mfuleni in the Western Cape.
Braamfontein’s edgy Kalashnikovv Gallery now launches and hosts its latest exhibitions on Instagram. Creating a full virtual exhibition experience, the are virtual opening night parties, as well as Instagram takeovers, artist studio tours and other live activities that will be hosted on their Instagram page. Follow them online here.
Based in Rosebank, Everard Read Gallery represents many top South African artists and sculptors and is one of Africa’s oldest private art galleries. With the gallery closed for at least the next month, Everard Read is taking to artsy.net to publish more information about their artists and their works and to share virtual art exhibitions. Follow them on artsy to stay up to date.
The gallery has also decided to host a series of fundraising exhibitions where 50% of the proceeds from sales go directly to the National Solidarity Fund. The latest fundraiser exhibition Us, featuring works by top names such as Nelson Makamo, VuSI Kumalo, Lionel Smit, Deborah Bell and Brett Murray, can now be viewed online at everard-read.co.za
Art online with Stevenson Gallery
This gallery showcases cutting-edge contemporary art and photography and is known for its provocative and thought-provoking contemporary exhibitions and installations by young South African artists.
Stevenson Gallery’s latest Johannesburg exhibition by Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi opened online on Thursday March 26, the first day of the lockdown, with an online Zoom ‘launch party’.
BKhz Gallery 3D virtual tour
Artist and curator Banele Khoza’s contemporary art gallery has gone online and in the coming days you’ll be able to embark on a 3-D virtual tour of the latest exhibition via the gallery website.
60-second art posts by Norval Foundation
Cape Town-based Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression and one of this country’s most impressive art museums. Follow them on Instagram and check out their #60SecondArt posts in their Instagram stories. Every day there’s a different 60 seconds post about an artwork from the collection with a voiceover by invited curators, artists and colleagues presenting fresh insights into the artist and their work.