New exhibitions delight the city's many art lovers as Joburg's art scene continues to thrive, while it's the last chance to view some excellent shows. Here's our pick of what to make time for this week.
Travel the vast interior of South Africa's Great Karoo with one of the country's top landscape artists, Bruce Backhouse, whose solo show The Freedom Trail opens at Gallery 2 this weekend. Two exciting exhibitions come to Berman Contemporary's new home at 223 Jan Smuts; we're looking forward to the first solo of up-and-coming artist Cow Mash and a group show curated by Els van Mourik exploring contemporary sculptural art. Also on Sat, Mar 2, don't miss a walkabout with provocative artist Roger Ballen for his exhibition End of the Game.
If you haven't yet, gain insight into the singular vision of Alfred Thoba in True Love, a posthumous exhibition of 27 paintings at Strauss & Co, closing on Fri, Mar 1.
For a full guide to what’s on in Joburg, explore our events calendar. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter published every Thursday morning. For extra daily updates, follow our Instagram page.
ART HIGHLIGHTSSat, Mar 2 – Join the Inside Out Centre for the Arts for a truly special insight into the mind and work of renowned artist and photographer Roger Ballen, who will take you through an hour-and-a-half guided tour of his inaugural exhibition End of the Game. Tickets are limited to 24 people, so book early to avoid disappointment; book here.
Opening Sat, Mar 2 – Bodies depicted in distorted forms leap off the canvas in Chris Denovan’s debut solo with Kalashnikovv Gallery, My Wondrous Tangle of Energy. A decadent dream.
Opening Sat, Mar 2 – Bruce Backhouse shares the many vistas and moments from the highly celebrated mountain bike route across South Africa known as the Freedom Trail in his solo exhibition of the same name at Gallery 2. A significant portion of the profits of the sale of these works will go to the Freedom Challenge Scholarship Fund. See you there.
Opening Sat, Mar 2 – Berman Contemporary explores sculpture through artists Amogelang Maepa, Chrisel Attewell, Lee-At Meyerov, Mellaney Roberts, and Pabello Majela in a new group exhibition entitled A Sculptural Symphony. This curated collection outlines the exploration of sculpture, through diverse conceptual and technical approaches, where these artists collectively challenge and redefine the aesthetic and conceptual parameters of contemporary sculptural art.
Opening Sat, Mar 2 – Berman Contemporary also opens a solo exhibition by Cow Mash called RE GONA. The title, being the response to “Dumelang” ('How are you?'), translates to “We are here”. In Sesotho no one stands alone, people speak of themselves in the plural because every person represents their community, and the exhibition is the artist's response to the idea of 'we-ness'.
LAST CHANCE TO SEEUntil Fri, Mar 1 – South African Modernist painter Alfred Thoba's 50-year commemorative exhibition True Love is on show at Strauss & Co in collaboration with Kalashnikovv Gallery. The exhibition's title comes from Thoba's painting of two lovers embracing, published in Playboy magazine in the '90s. The artworks are exhibited around a reconstruction of Thoba's home studio as it was left in Gainsborough Mansions in Hillbrow, including the last painting he traced on the easel.
Until Fri, Mar 1 – Kneo Mokgopa reflects on 10 years since the loss of Madiba in Nelson Mandela Is Dead, a thought-provoking, interactive exhibition at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
SOLO SHOWSUntil Wed, Mar 6 – Iranian-born artist Sepideh Mehraban celebrates an optimistic outlook on life in Iran with her colourful paintings in Promise of Paradise at Goodman Gallery.
Until Sun, Mar 10 – Ramotoana Richard Mokgomme tackles an unstable economy and South African politics post-1994 in his solo exhibition at Oovookoo entitled Tsa sefaleng le meraloko ye mengwe ('A theatre stage piece and other plays'). Along with thought-provoking paintings and sculptures, this artist asks you to reflect on hard truths about our country and its history, through an exhibition that's composed as a play.
Until Thu, Mar 14 – In her solo project Kissing Studies with David Krut Projects, Ernest Cole Award-winner Motlhoki Nono seals her printmaking process with a kiss.
Until Thu, Mar 14 – In Pandamonic Clarity, the vibrant mixed-media works of Mthatha-born artist Mongezi Ncombo get a solo showing with Lizamore & Associates in the lobby of Rosebank's Firestation.
Until Fri, Mar 15 – Kerala-born artist Shine Shivan transforms Stevenson Gallery into a temple-like space of devotion with his first solo show on the continent, Basant (the Hindi word for spring). Vedic myth and ancient scripture, most notably the famous Bhagavad Gita, come to life in Shivan's ecstatic work.
Until Fri, Mar 29 – Michael Meyersfeld's pairs his signature black and white photography with ink painting to add vibrant colouration in New Images at Path Nomad, an exciting new venue in 44 Stanley.
Until Sat, Mar 30 – It's more than creature comfort. Provocative sculptor Brett Murray's work takes a personal turn in Brood at Everard Read's Circa Gallery. The artist draws on the animal kingdom to reflect on our tribes as a grounding force in this increasingly turbulent world.
Until Sun, Mar 31 – Richard John Forbes's solo exhibition, PRAXIS, spreads across Nirox Sculpture Park with a variety of works. As a result of his 2023 residency, Forbes will showcase artworks made from rose quartz and blown glass, as well as a series of prints created from spinning tops, a film, and a pop-up installed entitled Shy Restrained Pink Thing.
Until Sat, Apr 6 – Celebrated contemporary artist Deborah Bell opens Everard Read's programme for the year with a new solo show, Mother Land. Marking her relocation from her home country of South Africa to New Zealand (where her mother was born), Bell's new works dance between worlds.
Until Sat, Apr 6 – Absa Gallery hosts a captivating body of work by Malebogo Molokoane who explores the inner workings of emotions and expression through the medium of glass. The delicacy of this medium highlights the power of human emotion and the fragility of the human condition. The work is titled A Re Tshamekeng (“let's play” in Setswana) and features a few sculptural works reminiscent of game pieces.
Until Sat, Apr 20 – Self-taught artist Bahati Simoens opens Sunset Market at BKhz Gallery – a solo exhibition of surreal, vibrant new paintings.
GROUP EXHIBITIONSUntil Wed, Mar 6 – The works of legendary photographer David Goldblatt and multidisciplinary artist Kiluanji Kia Henda share space in Goodman Gallery's new exhibition, Frameworks, bringing themes of migration and belonging to the fore.
Until Sat, Mar 16 – Origin Art hosts a group exhibition, Through Different Lenses at Keyes Art Mile. It features artists who share their fresh views through various mediums, concepts and ultimately, 'different lenses.'
Until Sat, Mar 23 – An impressive line-up of contemporary South African artists come together to reflect on our nation's 30-year journey towards democracy in Great Expectations at the Javett-UP Art Centre in Hatfield. While in the vicinity, don't miss the University of Pretoria's other museum galleries dedicated to local and international ceramics, Dutch masterpieces, and impressive modern sculptures.
Until end Mar – Four contemporary female artists find the common threads that bind us in our humanity in Embodied Narratives at 44 Stanley's the gallery; a harmony of new works by Vanessa Cowling, Nicole Clare Fraser, Olivié Keck, and Thanduxolo Nombali Phakathi.
Until Tue, Apr 30 – Historical posters, banners, T-shirts, and two specially commissioned films are on celebratory display in Time to Act at the Apartheid Museum, commemorating 40 years of the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Until Sat, May 11 – Threading Through the Collections at Wits Art Museum (WAM), a journey through rich textiles from sub-Saharan Africa. Including raffia fibre and beaten-bark cloth, tapestries, embroideries, and fabrics dyed with indigo and mud, the works span a wide geographic region and illustrate the significance of textiles across the continent over time.
Ongoing – The South African Gold Coin Exchange and the Scoin Shop are behind a permanent exhibition, We Love Mandela, at The Marc in Sandton Central. The group show charts some of the most important milestones in Nelson Mandela's life through paintings, textiles, and sculptural works.