Spellbinders: Myths, Mysteries and Hidden Tales is an exceptional exhibition that delves into the Johannesburg Art Gallery’s (JAG) impressive archival art collection that was started in 1910 and holds more than 9000 artworks. These range from 17th-century Dutch paintings to South African contemporary works.
The gallery building celebrated 100 years of existence in 2015. Designed by English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who is better known for his planning of New Delhi, Johannesburg's public art gallery has weathered the vicissitudes of fortune, but still remains a grand and imposing space.
From a room dedicated to myths and folk narratives, featuring unusual artworks like Ming Dynasty roof tiles, to a collection of German Gothic altar pieces that inspired a pioneering wood-conservation treatment by the gallery in the 1960s. Give your sleuthing skills a workout at the Hidden Tales room showcasing gems like the forgotten Irma Stern found on the back of one of the gallery’s paintings.
The Spellbinders exhibition also offers a unique opportunity to see some of the gallery’s oldest artworks like Han Dynasty ceramics and intricate etchings by renowned 15th-century German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer, alongside artworks by celebrated South African artists like Gerald Sekoto.
Along side this exhibition runs Call and Response: First engagements with a KwaZulu–Natal heritage collection which draws on JAG’s recently acquired Maritz collection of heritage artefacts which have been sourced from across the KwaZulu-Natal region.