To see in Joburg – weekly exhibitions guide

24 Apr 2024

It's another great week for art in Joburg. Here's our pick of must-see exhibitions, plus a few dates to diarise. 

Diverse practitioners reckon with national monuments and their complex histories in Guns & Rain's new group exhibition. The result of his six-week residency, Abdus Salaam’s mixed-media solo at Nirox Sculpture Park looks spell-binding. Everard Read offers a glimpse inside Michael MacGarry's "mile-a-minute" mind through a series of paperworks, two-dimensional wall-based pieces, and sculptures.

Egyptian artists Lamis Haggag and Mina Nasr's dual exhibition at Goethe-Institut is mythologically laden, with experiential elements that require an in-person viewing. While in the city, the duo's been exploring traditional methods of food preparation as part of their ongoing research project Cooking Sunshine. You're invited to share a sun-cooked meal with them on Sun, May 5 – get the details here

In a remarkable twist of fate, a series of works by visionary South African artist Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi was rediscovered after disappearing without a trace over 30 years ago. They're being shown to the public for the first time on home soil at UJ Art Gallery in the celebratory exhibition Ntlo E Etsamayang (The Walking House). Sebidi is a legend among us; make sure you see this show. 

The landmark showcase Resilience and Reflection at the Apartheid Museum joins the chorus in exhibitions celebrating South Africa's unsung art heroes. This presentation of repatriated works by pivotal black artists who recorded township life in the dark days of apartheid is required viewing as the country's next general elections draw ever nearer.

Further down the line, mark your calendars for two of South Africa's most exciting art fairs in May. The open studios event Contra.Joburg has a new name and the most exciting line-up yet, while RMB Latitudes once again touches down at the magnificent Shepstone Gardens. Best of all, these very different art fairs continue their partnership this year, with a shuttle travelling between the two. It's going to be an art-filled weekend for the books. 

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.


Opening Thu, Apr 25 from 18:00 – 20:30Guns & Rain's new group show Into One's Own: Reckoning with Monuments & Memory features work by a host of thought-provoking practitioners. The exhibition includes a video piece, Man of War: Leave My House, by Namibian-born artists Gift Uzera, Nicola Brandt, and Muningandu Hoveka. The trio confronts the colonial monument of Curt von François in Windhoek on the day of its removal and asks how we can envision new rituals and public spaces.
Attend a screening of Man of War: Leave My House at Guns & Rain on Thu, Apr 25 from 19:00. Photo: Guns & Rain.

Opening Fri, Apr 26 – Michael MacGarry's solo exhibition The System Absorbs All Opposition at Everard Read continues his legacy as an artist refusing neat definition. You'll have to see it for yourself. 

Opening Sat, Apr 27 from 14:00 – Following his six-week residency, Abdus Salaam’s first solo exhibition is held at Nirox Sculpture Park. Spread across three spaces, the artist explores love in its terrestrial, ethereal, and divine forms in Insaan (Human Being). RSVP

Until Fri, Apr 26
 – Latitudes and Salon Kewpie have joined forces to launch a benefit auction for gender non-conforming youth in the District Six area. Kewpie was a hairdresser and drag performer who lived in Cape Town's District Six in the 1950s and 1960s; Salon Kewpie aims to revive her legacy. Ten local artists including Lionel Davis, Jody Brand, Githan Coopoo, and Nanna Venter have donated some stellar works to the cause. You can place your bids online here.

Until Fri, May 17 – In 1991, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi's art took her to Sweden where she was set to exhibit a series of works. While she waited, the pieces were lost without a trace. It's remarkable that 32 years since their disappearance, 28 of Sebidi's artworks were rediscovered and have since returned home. These long-lost treasures are shown to the public for the first time in Ntlo E Etsamayang (The Walking House) at UJ Art Gallery.

Until Fri, May 31 – Artists Lamis Haggag and Mina Nasr explore the connections between the hadeda and sacred ibis (a prominent figure in Egyptian mythology) in Navigating Iridescence at Goethe-Institut. The multimedia works were created during the duo's recent residency with LAPA in Brixton. 
Details from a hand-stitched textile piece in Navigating Iridescence at Goethe-Institut. Photo: Lamis Haggag.

Tue, Jun 4 and Wed, Jun 5 – Calling South Africa's rising art stars: entries are open for the 2024 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. Get your works ready for submission at one of several collection points across the country. In addition to a R100,000 cash prize, the winner gets a solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art MuseumRead our interview with the 2023 winner Nosiviwe Matikinca here.
Until Wed, Jul 31 – In Resilience and Reflection, the Apartheid Museum showcases works from the Ifa Lethu Foundation's phenomenal collection. Created by black South African artists like Dumile Feni, Winston Saoli, and David Phoshoko Mothapeng, these pieces have been repatriated from 16 countries and provide a record of life in the townships during the dark days of apartheid.


Until Thu, Apr 25 – Sifiso Mkhabela explores the hardships and breakthroughs of life in Johannesburg in his solo show Concrete Cocoon at Asisebenze Art Atelier.
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 Fri, May 3 – Interdependence is key to harmony in the natural world. It is this notion that Bronwyn Katz explores in a first solo with Stevenson Gallery, titled Stone's embrace, a love spiral of erosion and renewal.
Until Sat, May 18 – A solo project by Peter Cohen, Dissolving Realities opens at David Krut's The Blue House. The artist creates layered daydreams out of commonplace scenery to interrogate the reliability of memory. Read our 2022 interview with Cohen here.
Until Sat, May 25 – Fumani Maluleke's scenes of the South African countryside come to life on grass mat canvasses in Tsalwa lerintswa (The New Scroll) at Everard Read's Circa Gallery.
Until Sat, May 25 – In the solo show Formed at Everard Read's Circa Gallery, Lionel Smit continues his exploration of the symbiotic relationship between sculpture and painting.
Until Thu, May 30 – The title alone for August House resident artist Itumeleng 'Mamase' Koloko's solo show at Rand Club packs a punch: This is a Man's World, but it Wouldn't be Anything Without a Woman or a Girl. Through mixed mediums of oil, charcoal, pastel, and acrylic, it's the artist's ode to the numinous nature of women.
Until end May – Offbeat Cape Town-based graffiti artist Slegh (aka @krinkywinky) gets his first solo exhibition of paintings, prints, embroidery, and more in Infekted by Dolphins at Braamfontein's Grayscale Gallery.
Until end May – One of the leading South African artists in the Expressionist movement, Maggie Laubser's utterly lovely works are showing in the Annex of Keyes Art Mile's Trumpet building. Viewings are by appointment only; email to arrange a timeslot. 
We loved Maggie Laubser's luminous exhibition at Keyes Art Mile. Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket. 

Until Sun, Jun 2 – Sculptor and ceramicist Natalie de Morney honours her San ancestry in her first solo exhibition, Re-Connections, at Berman Contemporary. Also at 223 Jan Smuts, Dalingcebo (Dali) Ngubane explores the concept of chaos in religion, mathematics, community, and the individual, in Chaos, A Theory with Candice Berman Gallery.
Until Mon, Jun 17 – There's no denying his artful eye when it comes to garment construction, but Lukhanyo Mdingi is venturing further into the art world with The Provenance Part II. Showing in the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill, the exhibition is concerned with the preservation of archives – textiles, literature, and music – as they relate to Bantu indigeneity.
Until Sat, Jun 19 – The result of seven years of archival and field research, writer and artist Bettina Malcomess's film cycle Sentimental Agents tracks the journey of "a technician of minor histories, trying to tell the story of cinema's place in the South African War". Public programming around the exhibition at Wits Art Museum (WAM) responds to the resonance between this war history and our contemporary moment, making this a show you'll want to visit, and re-visit again.
Until Sun, Jul 7 Tatenda Magaisa's multimedia exhibition It wearies me; you say it wearies you at Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) explores sanity and overwhelm with a touch of humour. 
Ongoing – Renowned artist and photographer Roger Ballen's semi-permanent exhibition End of the Game at the Inside Out Centre for the Arts chronicles the practice of unrestrained hunting. Ballen will host walkabouts of the show, which will change periodically with input from various collaborators, on the first Saturday of every month. Follow @insideoutcentre on Instagram for details.


Until end Apr – A group show at Artyli GallerySee Me Twice presents a dialogue between abstract and figurative art through the works of 14 contemporary African artists.
Until Sat, May 11 – Threading Through the Collections at Wits Art Museum (WAM) is a journey through sub-Saharan Africa in textile form. 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. It's just beautiful.
Until Sat, May 11  – In Umpteen Impossible Things Before Breakfast at Gallery 2, see recent works by the University of Johannesburg's staff in the faculty of art, design, and architecture including Kim Berman, Bevan de Wet, and Gordon Froud
Until end May – Incredible landscapes spanning mediums, styles, and eras are brought together in Near and Far at Keyes Art Mile's Gallery 1 and Atrium spaces. These rarely-seen works from a private collection are a treat (open Wed – Fri from 10:00 – 16:00 and Sat from 09:00 – 13:00).
Until end May – See a temporary showcase drawn from the acclaimed Bongi Dhlomo Collection (dating back to the 1960s) at Javett-UP, featuring some of the country's most prominent black artists.
Until Sun, Jun 2 – Pretoria Art Museum gets its moment in the sun with 60 Years of Artistic Journey, a retrospective exhibition chronicling the museum's evolution since it was founded in 1964. There are sure to be some special works on show. 
Until Sun, Jun 2 – Berman Contemporary shines light on seven emerging and early-career artists in The New Vanguard at their 223 Jan Smuts gallery.
A lively work by Thembeka Heidi Sincuba, one of the emerging artists in the spotlight at Berman Contemporary. Photo: Thembeka Heidi Sincuba.

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.


Fri, May 3 from 17:45 – If you love art and pangolins in equal measure, head to Everard Read's Circa Gallery for a fundraising auction to support the conservation initiatives of the African Pangolin Working Group
Fri, May 3 from 14:00 – 17:00 – In The Fallen Tree at Gallery MOMOJonathan Freemantle unveils a series of paintings and woodcarvings created during his seven-month residency at the Hugo Burge Foundation in Scotland. 
With wide-ranging influences from Japanese Zen painting to African ritual masks, Jonathan Freemantle's works are rooted in nature. Photo: Jonathan Freemantle.

Opening Sat, May 4 – Surinamese-Dutch artist Remy Jungerman's first major solo exhibition on the continent, Still Waters comes to Goodman Gallery.
Sat, May 4 from 10:00 – 18:00Key to the City, an analogue photography exhibition by Hayden Jennings exploring local graffiti culture, opens at Grayscale Gallery's project space.
Sat, May 18 from 11:00 – Join provocative photographer Roger Ballen as he reflects on his career and latest publication, Polaroids, at the Rand Club ballroom. There's no charge but bookings are essential. RSVP here.
Fri, May 24 – Sun, May 26 – One of Joburg's premier art experiences returns to Shepstone Gardens this May. Early-bird tickets for the RMB Latitudes 2024 art fair are already sold out and we suggest you get yours soon – go here
Sat, May 25 – Sun, May 26 – A unique, on-the-ground art festival, Contra.Joburg is the biggest open studios event in South Africa. Get your early bird tickets here until Thu, Apr 25.

Wondering what else to do this week? Read our weekly events guide here. For our latest updates, follow us on Instagram

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