This past week the Jozi-Deep had the privilege of speaking with amazingly gifted and motivated team from Art Eye Gallery. Based in Jozi at
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2191
They agreed to answer a few questions giving a little more insight to who they are, what there vision for the future as well as there current ambitions. Here’s what they had to say..
Where’d the idea for the art eye gallery come from and what made you choose Jhb to launch in?
Art Eye gallery is born from a long running Art Consultancy called Art Eye. Long before we had established this amazing gallery, there existed a vision and passion for African Art. The New Doornfontein Spaces are born from the vision of the Art Eye Gallery previously located in The Design Quarter, Fourways. We moved to the city to reawaken our feeling of the city, however not realising that we would contribute to an ever larger movement of reawakening. Art Eye Gallery is comprised of AE The Studio, AE The Projectroom, AE The Launchpad and AE The Studiobox(es). These are all experimental project and exhibition spaces, which host a number of innovative and creative collaborations by artists from different scopes of the South African art scene. AE The Studio, AE The Launchpad and AE The Project Room function in adjoining spaces, creating a synchronicity between traditional studio spaces and exhibition spaces.
The gallery is situated on the 5th floor of Ellis House; a building dedicated to the promotion of South African Art and artists. The building houses artists, galleries and art practitioners creating multiple dialogues around the production and exhibition of contemporary art. Art Eye chose this new space drawn by its creative energy and close proximity to the inner city. The Art Eye inner city spaces are ventures dedicated to breaking down barriers and celebrating our diversity through Art. These spaces exist in order to create visibility and conjure discussions around humanity, diversity and create a sense of community between artists and art buyers.
What’s your galleries goals and vision for the future?
Art Eye Gallery is a constantly evolving concept which encourages collaboration, free expression and community. Our passion quite naturally changed and focused on creating platforms for emerging to gain exposure and create sustainable visual arts careers. The Art Eye spaces concomitantly bridge the gap between the formal exhibition space and workshop space allowing for artists to experiment, converse and express their innermost thoughts through the visual arts medium.
Artists are invited to participate in workshops, live drawing sessions and most significantly residencies under AE The Projectroom; a sister company to Art Eye. By creating a platform for interdisciplinary interventions as well as allowing for the exhibition of diverse visual art forms, we hope to create a new movement of art appreciation. By developing new markets, we aim to create a new following and group of art collectors. We encourage exchange and community even with our clients so that they are able to grow with the gallery, with their peers and our artists.
We are conscious about creating amazing experiences, as such our exhibition space is pristine and guests are invited to experience Art sensually. The visuals that are placed on the walls are complimented by hints of ylang ylang, amidst a cacophony of instruments filling the room. The moody dark space allows our visitors the room to intimately and quietly engage with the work. The space will host an array of different art forms from video, performance, musical and performative installation. We are active everyday in broadening our scope but still maintaining a direction towards original production and creativity.
Our goal is to replicate this model all over the world and to give artists the opportunity to voice their individual sensibilities openly. We are dedicated to continuing to tell our artists story and intend to cement these narratives in history.
With so many unique pieces on display, Whats the selection process for an artist who wants to display there work in your gallery?
There isn’t really a formal selection process. Being that we are a young gallery we have still remained open to meeting new artists. We still engage new artists and take on emerging artists we are passionate about. We look for artists who share our passion and create genuine connections. We have our most direct portal firstname.lastname@example.org and then we also have artists engaging us on social media. We are open to finding great talent wherever we may find it.
What are some of the most memorable works of art you’ve seen come threw the gallery?
We have had the pleasure of working with so many incredible artists the choosing is a task within itself. I will answer the question differently and rather tell you about some of the artists we currently work with.
Thokozani Mthiyane is one of our most exciting artists, who we had the pleasure of exhibiting at the gallery this year. His multicultural aesthetic is drawn from his desire for travel and connection to countries all over the world. This consumption and cultivation of other cultural influences and practices is somehow the place on which the works elaboration exists. The works hold narratives referencing his experiences through love, spirituality, music and painting. So much of his process involves combining these influences through physical objects and brush stoke. Mthiyane’s works are inherently physically apart of the contexts they come from, as much of his process includes the use of found objects in and around which ever context he finds himself in.
Toni Bico who’s work is an exploration of color, texture through layered brushstroke, combined appliqué and original pattern. The patterns are created through the artists own aesthetic sensibility which may only be determined by his state of mind during his process of working, on any given day. The paintings are thus subject to constant visual fluctuation and can not find resolution, until he feels he has completed them.
And Michele Silk whose work is always a completely innovative telling of the subject matter she is interested in, at any given time. Her recent body of work entitled “The New Eve Series” was a celebration of African women based on her observation of women globally, but specifically black African women. The work was presented through a series of portraits in vibrant colouring and multi media. In her depiction she explored the relevance of self promotion through social media and how the ability to self-construct identity, simultaneously deconstructs the gaze and voyeuristic allure. Because social media is fundamentally self authored, the ability to construct one’s identity creates a platform for creativity and a shift in traditional representation. “Recent global feminist movements have been spurred on, united by and expressed through social media and women are making use of these platforms to stand defiant, celebrate their power and challenge gender roles” Silk
You do a lot of work for young artists, what advice or guidance do you have for aspiring artists coming threw the Jozi industry?
The fairest advice would be JUST KEEP PUSHING ON. There is no magic potion it really just involves hard work and discipline. The visual art industry is not by any means easy or necessarily predictable but the work does reward those who continue to work, grow and reinvent themselves. It is so important to keep educating yourself around whatever your work you make and what it is about. Be it medium, concept or discourse etc. Grow with the work and your following will grow with you.
We would like to thank Art Eye Gallery for allowing Jozi-Deep to publish and share this piece with all readers and we hope to share a lot more in future.