Art binge: The Jo’burg galleries and art venues you need to visit

Johannesburg has always been alive with new art. A city in perpetual motion, its artists emerge from across the board to bring to the fore, new ideas, works and ways of engaging with the contemporary landscape through a multiplicity of artistic mediums.

Of course this means that Jo’burg is also home to more than a few renowned galleries and artistic organisations. From the historic Goodman gallery and The Bag Factory, to newer spaces such as The Kalashnikovv Gallery and No End Contemporary Art Space, Jo’burg has no shortage of establishments dedicated to the arts.

We’ve summed up a few of these establishments here, giving a brief bit of history and insight into each.

The Goodman Gallery | 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Rosebank

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  • Established in Johannesburg in 1966, the Goodman Gallery is one of the longest standing international contemporary art galleries.
  • During apartheid-era South Africa, the gallery attempted to serve as a non-discriminatory space that hosted artists and artworks that challenged the autocratic government of the day.
  • In 2009 the Goodman Gallery initiated Goodman Projects, a ‘third space’ aimed at providing a platform for non-commercial initiatives with an emphasis on change and disruption.
  • This year, Goodman celebrated its 50th year of challenging dominant narratives and championing new artists. Watch their 50th anniversary video here.   

Stevenson | 62 Juta Street, Braamfontein

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  • The first Stevenson was opened in 2003 in Cape Town’s Green Point area and was called the Michael Stevenson.
  • After partnering with David Brodie in 2008, another gallery was then opened in Johannesburg as the Brodie/Stevenson gallery.
  • In November 2010, Jo’burg’s Stevenson gallery moved to its current location in Braamfontein and has become one of the most frequented galleries in the area.
  • Stevenson appeals to a wide range of art lovers, young and old and is known for its diverse range of artists.
  • Their group exhibitions are particularly successful, with this year’s SEX exhibition being one of the highlights of the 2016 arts calendar.

Circa | 2 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank

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  • Circa gallery was built in 2009 as an extension of the Everard Read Gallery.
  • The building, pioneered by studioMAS, is a work of art in its own right, making use of shutter-style aluminium and concrete that stand tall and firm, changing colour depending on where you view them from.
  • Circa plays host to contemporary artists and art forms such as video installations, music, photographic exhibitions and collections of large scale sculptures, while also hosting the odd lecture or talk.
  • With the newly established Keyes Art Mile, Circa now stands out as one of the central attractions on the Rosebank art strip.

David Krut Projects | 140 & 151 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood (Exhibition space and bookstore), and 264 Fox St & Berea Road, Maboneng (Arts on Main print workshop)

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  • David Krut Publishing was established in 1997 when they produced the first major publication on renowned artist William Kentridge.
  • Founded by David Krut himself, David Krut Projects has sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town and New York.
  • The artistic institution commits itself to encouraging an awareness of the arts and related literature and media, as well as promoting an appreciation for contemporary artistic culture.
  • David Krut Projects occupies two spaces in Jo’burg, namely the David Krut Print Workshop in Arts On Main, and the exhibition space and bookstore on Jan Smuts Avenue.

Res Gallery | 140 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood

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  • Res Gallery was founded by Ricardo Fornoni, Steven Goldblatt and Simone Fornoni with the intention of promoting digital art, mixed media and limited edition print works.
  • Ricardo Fornoni is a well-known South African fine art printer and extends his services to many local and international artists, operating from Res gallery.
  • The gallery is known for its interactive exhibitions and for its striking photographic exhibitions.
  • More than that, Res aims to create a platform of cultural dialogue in the digital age where artists are invited to show their work in thematic exhibitions which see the culmination of local international, and emerging artists all generating and sharing knowledge and artistic resources.

Gallery MOMO | 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North

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  • Founded in 2002, Gallery MOMO is an internationally renowned contemporary art gallery situated in Jo’burg’s Parktown suburb. They also have a gallery space located in Cape Town’s CBD.
  • They are known for their family of local and international artists, all of whom are at the forefront of the contemporary arts scene.
  • Through their residency programmes which focus on idea exchanges and artistic production, Gallery MOMO supports emerging artists from SA and abroad.
  • While Gallery MOMO is based in SA, they frequently participate in international art fairs, creating a bridge for local artists to access international markets and Biennales.

Kalashnikovv | 153 Smit Service Street, Braamfontein

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  • Now in its third year, The Kalashnikovv Gallery was established in 2013 by long-term collaborators M.J Turpin and Matthew Dean Dowdle and arose as a challenge to the South African contemporary art scene and long-standing ‘white cube’ gallery spaces and discourses.
  • Fluid in nature, The Kalashnikovv Gallery moves between being a commercial gallery space, a project space, and an independently run artist space.
  • They aim to represent and provide a space for emerging and independent artists who may not form part of the rigorous academic art community, and feature work by artists that aims to challenge the viewer, artist, and gallery space itself.   

WAM | University Corner, Corner Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue) and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein

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  • In the early 1950s, Professor Heather Martienssen and Professor John Fassler cobbled together a small collection which would form the beginnings of the Wits Art Museum’s (WAM) collection.
  • In the 1960s, substantial funding donated by Norman Herber would allow for WAM to grow its collections and establish itself as both a gallery space and a museum of artworks.
  • Over the years, WAM has garnered more works, expanding into a sizeable collection of African art, and eventually expanding into the Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa which fosters academic research and practice in the realm of the arts using WAM as a springboard.

No End Contemporary Art Space | 60 4th Avenue, Linden 

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  • Only in its second year now, No End Contemporary Art Space is an artist-run contemporary art gallery founded by Maaike Bakker, Jayne Crawshay-Hall and Dalene Victor Meyer in 2015.
  • The space features work by up-and-coming contemporary artists across a variety of mediums.
  • One of No End’s primary goals is to support young artists and curators and to open up access to the art-buyer pool, creating a more self-sustainable contemporary art cycle.

The Bag Factory | 10 Mahlatini Street, Fordsburg

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  • Less of a gallery and more of a studio space, The Bag Factory’s support of South African artists has been invaluable over the years.
  • The organisation was co-founded in 1991 by artist, teacher and curator David Koloane and British art collector and philanthropist Robert Loder, both of whom sought to create a space for black South African artists to create new work and share ideas.
  • To date, the Fordsburg building houses 16 artist studios and hosts the occasional exhibition or event to showcase these works to the public.
  • The Bag Factory is known for its residencies which they regularly extend to local and international emerging artists.  

Illustrations by Jonny Smith

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