Written by Lindsay Krause
A melting pot of art and culture, it’s no surprise that the city of Cape Town boasts a wealth of galleries, showcasing artists from across the African continent. The loud and engaged contemporary art scene is a reflection of the country’s past, present and future and continues to beckon visitors to the galleries dotted throughout the city and the surrounding winelands. With so many galleries to choose from, we thought we’d offer a helping hand. In no particular order, here is Ker & Downey® Africa’s list of 5 of the Best Art Galleries in Cape Town.
Housing the largest collection of contemporary African art, the Zeitz MOCAA has become an assembly point for art lovers world over. The museum is located in Cape Town’s newest hub, the Silo District, and its unique structure towers over the harbour of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. An architectural triumph, the Zeitz MOCAA was once a working grain silo and the visually striking cylindrical forms still dominate the interiors of the museum. The museum was curated with the purpose of highlighting modern African art, empowering the voices of the youth and giving a sense of artistic pride in the community.
Featured artists include: William Kentridge, Nandipha Mntambo, Anthi-Patra Ruga and Cyrus Kabiru.
Originally founded in Johannesburg in 1966, the Goodman Gallery has been pivotal in shaping and encouraging contemporary South African art that confronts power structures and encourages social change. One of the most distinguished galleries in South Africa, the Goodman Gallery helped to launch the work of renowned South African artists David Goldblatt, William Kentridge and David Koloane into the international art scene, despite the strictures of the apartheid regime. Now gallery owner, Lize Essers, has bought over 30 international artists to the gallery roster, as well as established artists from South Africa and the African continent engaged in a dialogue with the African context. It’s second branch in Cape Town is located in Woodstock and is just as dedicated in exhibiting provocative contemporary South African art.
Featured artists include: Willem Boshoff, David Goldblatt, William Kentridge, Kapwani Kiwanga and Grada Kilomba.
With exhibition spaces in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London and Franschhoek, the always dynamic Everard Read gallery strives to maximise the exposure and dissemination of contemporary painting and sculpture to a broad audience. An important contributor to the vibrant cultural life of South Africa, Everard Read/CIRCA is the oldest commercial art gallery on the African continent. Their latest offering in Franschhoek, in partnership with the Leeu Collection, is located in a heritage building adjacent to Le Quatier Francais. The gallery space spills out into a sculpture garden, interspersed with the herbs and vegetables used by renowned restaurant, La Petit Colombe. Whilst artists from the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and the USA are exhibited, the gallery retains at its core an impressive staple of South African art and artists.
Featured artists include: Guy du Toit, Lionel Smit, Dylan Lewis and Wilma Cruise.
Hidden at the end of a farm road in the winelands of Stellenbosch you will find the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden. Dylan Lewis is one of South Africa’s most influential sculptors and is known for his focus on the African cat as his subject. The project began in 2009 and developed into a collection of 60 odd sculptures that harmoniously take on a life of their own in the seven-hectare garden. Dotted between lush indigienous garden pathways, or standing boldly with the Stellenbosch mountains in the backdrop, the artist has carefully placed his iconic great cats, human forms, shamanic figures and abstract fragments in harmony with the natural landscape. Feel free to meander through the gardens at your own pace or opt for a private guided tour to gain more insight into the artists themes and psyche.
Take a trip into the Cape Winelands and visit the newly established Norval Foundation in Steenberg. Set against a mountain and vineyard landscape, The Norval Foundation is a celebration of art, architecture and landscape. The latest addition to the South African art scene, the foundation is a tribute to 20th- and 21st- century visual art from South Africa. With the dream to make art more accessible to the public, the Norval Foundation boasts 9 world class galleries, a restaurant and bar, research library, amphitheater and an indigenous, four-hectare sculpture garden. The Norval Foundation is constantly evolving and runs 2 major exhibitions at a time with four to six shows per year. Under the management of Elana Brundyn, Chief Executive Director, you can be assured that your experience at the Norval Foundation will be unique.