When First Thursdays started in Cape Town, and then Joburg and now Durban, the cultural capital of each city soared. Not only were the galleried streets of the City Bowl (Cape Town), Rosebank, Braamfontein and Maboneng (Joburg) and Station Road Precinct, Florida Road and Glenwood (Durban), respectively, the best place to take visitors in each city to show off the talent of our local art stars – they were also the place to spot the hottest and coolest people of our fair land.
Live music was soon added to the First Thursdays mix, as well as alcohol, naturally, and shortly thereafter there was less art viewing and more drunken flirting.
First Thursdays was launched in Cape Town in 2012 by local creatives Michael Tymbios and Gareth Pearson, who were inspired by a similar gathering in London. Tymbios and Pearson, both involved in the city’s creative industry, also wanted to combine their love for urbanism and art into a project that would help to revitalise city spaces and attract a hip crowd of urbanites of all ages.
Despite the fact that some of the galleries now close early and that it's hard to talk “art” above the frenzied ordering of drinks from mobile bars, First Thursdays still remain that time of the week when many galleries start their new shows for the month and invite patrons to the openings.
Here are some of the best in each city:
In my room with Mazzy Star by Rosie Mudge.
Rosie Mudge’s first solo exhibition invites the viewer to look through the works on display as through windows, to play with traditions of vision and painting.
Made from nail polish and glitter glue on a grand scale, Mudge’s paintings take something that usually only exists in small and contained supplies and expands it to the surface of her canvases. She uses an airbrush to layer her colours, erasing the artist’s hand from the work. The paintings are full of emotion that folds and bends through time and experience. Layers of glitter glue reflect a metallic sheen in response to the input from light and colour surrounding them.
Going to “my room”, that safe space of individuality and creativity, is Mudge’s way of returning to the nature of creative production. Mudge’s paintings evoke a sensation of deep recesses of space despite their material flatness, conveying a movement towards an uncertain point.
In my room with Mazzy Star will show from April 5 to May 5 at Smith Gallery in Cape Town.
ResCape, Group Exhibition
40 Stones in the Wall once a year invites a group of artists to exhibit works according to a thematic narrative. This group exhibition will be shown in a one-off pop-up gallery for one night only. The exhibition is called ResCape, and explores the notions of seascape, landscape and es-Cape through various media.
Artists who have been invited to participate include Franli Meintjes, Janna Prinsloo, Heidi Salzwedel, Ydi Coetsee, Inge Semple and Karla Benade.
On show on April 5 only at Chanua Centre, 86 Long Street.
ID:id - Group Exhibition
The group show ID:id aims to explore the concept of identity, how it is formed and how it changes over time. The exhibition will question the effect of the environment on the individual: whether it has a positive or negative impact on forming the identity.
What happens when we look at Freud’s id without the ego and superego? In this group show the artists look at the unruly, instinctual id and the impact it can have on the identity when it is left unchecked.
Exhibiting artists include Ella Cronje, Adele van Heerden, Peter Mammes, Katharine Meeding, Michal Kruger, Elizaveta Rukavishnikova and Lwando Dlamini.
On at Untitled Studios, 143 Upper Harrington Street, from Thursday, April 5.
Re-membering: Memory, Intimacy, Archive by Sharlene Khan and Jordache A. Ellapen
The work exhibited this week in Braamfontein is taken from the projects of these two artists, When the Moon Waxes Red (2016) and Queering the Archive: Brown Bodies in Ecstasy (2016) respectively. In these projects, through the lens of the “Indian” experience, the two artists explore and unsettle notions of memory, race, class, gender and sexuality in post-apartheid South Africa, and comment on the nuances and complexities of everyday life in this country.
For her series, Khan works with different visual media like video-art, digital photography, and needle-lace to produce “visual textured narratives”, which tell of the difficult circumstances of migratory women.
Ellapen uses archival studio photographs and digital photographs to produce “visual assemblages” that disrupt the heteronormative logics of family, community and nation.
Together, these artists challenge everyday experiences of identities shaped through the tensions of cultural migrations, love of family, loss and mythologies that are often simplistically and sentimentally rendered. These entanglements add richness to South African history .
On at Point of Order, corner Bertha and Stiemens streets from April 5 to 18.
Vex & Silence, group exhibition
“Not in innocence, and not in Asia, was mankind born. The home of our fathers was that African highland reaching north from the Cape to the Lakes of the Nile. Here we came about — slowly, ever so slowly — on a sky-swept savannah glowing with menace.”
Ilene Bothma, Rhett Martyn, Susan Opperman, Cobus Haupt, Vusi Beauchamp, Wilhelm Saayman, Willemien de Villiers and Christopher Steenkamp.
On at Priest Gallery and Espressobar, 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, from April 5.
A sense of Resilience by Lindo Zwane
Lindo Zwane’s work is focused on the feeling of nostalgia through a process of catharsis. This exhibition consists of a combination of recreated and recomposed memories from the artist’s childhood. These nostalgic images depict everyday life and the accompanying challenges that Zwane experienced and observed.
Venda by JM Tshikhuthula
JM Tshikhuthula’s Venda centres on the deep and fragile relationship South Africans have always had with water. The work depicts the literal rural scenes and landscapes of Venda, where the artist’s parents were born and where he spent a lot of time in his youth. Apart from the literal depictions, the work brings to life the emotions at play when a struggle for water is a central part of daily life.
Both exhibitions are on at Lizamore & Associates Gallery, 155 Jan Smuts Avenue, from Thursday, April 5 to 28.