Celebrating contemporary African art through commitment, consistency and collaboration
with gallery HUB
There are only six weeks between today and the next edition of FNB Art Joburg. When Mandla Sibeko assumed ownership of FNB Art Joburg in 2019, one his priorities was to challenge the idea that in order for an art fair to be considered international, there must be a European or American gallery present. “We needed to get away from that and focus on our galleries. We are international in the way that we do things,” said Sibeko. An opportunity to celebrate the offerings curated by galleries of the Global South, FNB Art Joburg actioned a type of reclamation where the best in contemporary African art would be seen, valued and celebrated at home before reaching international waters.
Recalling times before FNB Art Joburg, Sibeko says “Before FNB Art Joburg, my biggest concern whenever I traveled around the world, was that I saw the best that African artists had to give everywhere else but here. You arrive at the Venice Biennale and there’s this big Zanele Muholi or Candice Breitz installation that people aren’t taking up time to see here.” A sore point for Sibeko, he began the process of building a quality fair that stands shoulder to shoulder with international fairs in its presentation, its programme and people. How do we move a nation forward the way our artists are if we aren’t showcasing their best? We have to use art fairs for education.”
Then when the fair was first established in 2008, fifteen years ago, there were a total of 55 contemporary art fairs in the world. Today, there are more than 250 annual fairs. Committed to the needs of our galleries, artists, collectors and the public, FNB Art Joburg has evolved to take on a hybrid approach that serves the curatorial as much as it does the commercial obligations. As a first step, the fair is divided into six specialised sections facilitating navigation and engagement through spatial interventions. These sections are known as gallery HUB, gallery LAB, MAX, ETC, AUX, and ORG.
Central to the fair, gallery HUB presents the best in contemporary Africa art. Guided by the objective to be a quality rather than a quantity focused fair, this year’s gallery HUB pavilion will present galleries representing artists from, but not limited to, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Benin, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Togo, and the diaspora. In our last newsletter, we introduced you to blank, Everard Read, First Floor Gallery Harare, Goodman Gallery, and Stevenson. This week we spotlight more gallery HUB exhibitors, namely BKhz, Eclectica Contemporary, Gallery MOMO, KALASHNIKOVV, Suburbia Contemporary and WHATIFTHEWORLD.
BKhz Gallery was founded by eSwatini born artist, Banele Khoza. Started as a studio space for Banele to create and represent himself from, BKhz (the gallery) came to be when Banele acted on his desire to grant his contemporaries access to an exhibition space that would prioritise their holistic well-being as best as possible. The gallery continues to operate by the ethos of putting the needs, wants, and vision of the artist first.
Director: Banele Khoza
With an increasing focus on African Art around the world, Eclectica Contemporary aims to present a carefully selected and focused collection of art from the continent that interrogates issues facing us in a globalized world. The art at Eclectica Contemporary often showcases practices and materials from art history but which push these boundaries and explore uncharted territories of representation, technique and theory.
Director: Shamiela Tyer
Gallery MOMO is a contemporary African art gallery founded in 2003. The gallery presents artists from the continent and the diaspora with a focus on works that look at contemporary African issues. The gallery also highlights African master’s and their contribution to South African art discourse while nurturing emerging artists through its residency program established in 2005.
Director: Monna Mokoena
Kalashnikovv Gallery is a contemporary fine art gallery and project space which is dedicated to providing a platform to both emerging and established South African artists. Kalashnikovv challenges the conventions of the art gallery in its manifestation, conduct and motivation.
Directors: MJ Turpin and Matthew Dean Dowdle
Suburbia Contemporary’s mission is to inspire and challenge visitors to explore the world of innovative practices from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Based in Barcelona, Spain, the gallery presents points of radical similarity between different material cultures and artistic traditions from across the globe. Established in 2017 in Granada with the imperative of gathering artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds and geographical locations within a single cluster, the gallery launched Satellite spaces in Cape Town (2019) and Florence (2020), structuring contact between the East, West, North, and South through a consistently evolving, critically engaged exhibition program open to antique and traditional knowledge systems, secret, hidden languages and future definitions of craft and artistic practice.
Directors: Francesco Ozzola
Founded in 2008, WHATIFTHEWORLD is a recognised contemporary art gallery both within South Africa and internationally. Part question, part purpose and part statement, their name anticipates the gallery’s program: a host of ambitious projects that promote curiosity and thought. With a strong focus on Africa and the African diaspora, the gallery represents influential artists who engage with global and local contemporary art and socio-political contexts.
Directors: Justin Rhodes, Ashleigh McLean