African art exerts its true voice at the Art Eye Gallery

If you appreciate the finer things in life, we’d like to bring your attention to Art Eye Gallery. Having relocated from Fourways’ Design Quarter to the trendy suburb of New Doornfontein, an inner city urban renewal project, this gallery and studio is reshaping how we experience and interact with African art and artists alike, and the meaningful conversations resulting. 

Founded and co-owned by Tyrone Selmon, it was originally established as an art consultancy aimed at providing a space where young local and Zimbabwean artists could create and showcase their pieces. It has now evolved into a dynamic arena for art enthusiasts to escape to, experience and engage with works of art and their artists; and a sanctuary for artists (both established and up-and-coming) to create within and showcase their work.

Fastjet sat down with the gallery’s curator and organiser, Sanele Manqele, to get a feel for what this abode of discovery and expression is all about.

 

Why the name Art Eye?

Simply put, because we have an eye for art. The meaning, however, stems deeper in that it represents much more that what we do and showcase. Art Eye needed to be timeless to ensure the space and its purpose would live beyond our years and could be carried on to create a legacy of original, authentic and creative African art.

 

Why did you choose this location? 

It was a better fit. As the creative hub of Johannesburg, New Doornfontein is an area where visitors and artists are used to engaging with creativity. It is also an area where new up-and-coming artistic or creative spaces are opening up, such as Victoria Yard. Even Nando’s central kitchen, which is just down the road from us, has its own incredible art collection growing daily.

 

What sets it apart from other galleries in Johannesburg?

Because this is a space where the people surrounding us are like-minded, we could establish Ellis House – a building solely dedicated to art. There is no room or floor that is not dedicated to creative art making. We are essentially creating an atmosphere for visual arts, which gives us the edge over other galleries scattered around Johannesburg.

 

Creating a visual art voice in Africa is a major undertaking. There is also a great need for this in South Africa. Your galleries ability to create a visual art voice specifically speaks to Africans more than most galleries in Johannesburg and South Africa. So what does your gallery give to the world of African art? How does it exert its voice?

We believe we have a deeper understanding of the market and brand or branding as whole, which creates a greater platform in order for us to really be able to show the world what is here.

We choose art pieces that are colourful, cutting edge and exceed the bounds of creativity. Basically, we choose art that others ordinarily wouldn’t. That is a great reflection of what the country and equally the continent is capable of making.

For us, it is imperative that a foundation is created for artists to show their work and to have greater visibility, in order for them to have lasting visual art careers.

We aim to structure our business on sustainability. That is how we are opening up the future of the art world, by creating spaces, careers and art works or models that are self-sustainable, so that artists can actually work and ultimately our audiences can develop an eye.

Added to this, because audience development alongside job creation was so fundamentally important to us, we envisioned and shaped a space where visitors to the gallery could sit for hours and engage with the artworks, and on occasions the artists themselves.

We wanted art lovers to feel welcome and open to exploring and understanding art in a way they want to. We wanted visitors to walk into the gallery and immediately recognise the African flare, to see the works presented not in a way that looks euro-centric, but in a way that it looks like it comes from Africa.

 

 

Art Eye Gallery has been described as “unique art for unique people”. It is a quirky, stylish space where people can gather, grab a cup of coffee from the coffee bar and just hang out. See for yourself! On your next trip to Johannesburg, take a couple of hours to truly experience this authentically African gallery. Put it top of your travel itinerary.

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