Unique gallery space opens in the winelands to boost African art

The Norval Foundation satellite at Boschendal will showcase some of the most important artists in SA and Africa, as well as emerging ones

16 January 2022 - 00:00
By Emma Jordan
Norval gallery at Boschendal.
Image: Michael Le Grange Photography Norval gallery at Boschendal.

Housed in the historic manor house at Boschendal, the Norval Foundation satellite is an exhibition space to showcase some of SA and Africa’s most important artists.

“So much work and time goes into the research of the exhibitions that are held at Norval, only for the artworks to go back into storage or return to their owners once the exhibition is over,” says Elana Brundyn, education and development partner at Norval Foundation. “This partnership allows the exhibitions to have a longer life and a wider reach.”

Divided into two gallery spaces, a commercial and a purpose-driven space, the partnership opens with Zanele Muholi's ongoing photographic series “Somnyama Ngonyama” (“Hail, the Dark Lioness”), which is on view for four months. The series, a collection of Muholi's photographic self-portraits, showcases the artist in various degrees of self exposure — both physically and emotionally —  tapping into the historical conforms of race, ethnicity, gender and perception.

The pivot of the work was previously on show at Norval Foundation at the end of 2020 when visitor numbers were restricted due to Covid-19.

Adjacent to the main exhibition rooms is a smaller commercial space where emergent artists will showcase work that is available for sale. This show opens with Githan Cooper, a Cape Town-based sculptor who has made a series of incandescent vases resplendent with neon and bright colours, blasting pithy one-liners such as “Yoga changed my life” and “My boyfriend is the revolution.”

As with all good museums there is a small retail space where these one liners have made it onto bright cotton totes and postcards alongside art catalogues and exploratory texts. There is also a small selection of homeware to complement the larger relaunched homeware offering for sale in a dedicated space curated by Paul Duncan in a building alongside the manor house.

Githan Cooper's series of incandescent vases in neon and bright colours.
Image: Mike Hall Githan Cooper's series of incandescent vases in neon and bright colours.

“It’s amazing that Boschendal has been able to see the value in this partnership,” says Brundyn. “It’s so important to support our artists in a commercial and purpose-driven way. Though there are retail offerings on other wine farms, there isn’t this type of unique offering: one that isn’t an owner’s private collection or a substantial commercial offering.”

Boschendal CEO Georgie Davidson says the combination of Boschendal's rich cultural heritage and Norval Foundation's unparalleled access to contemporary African art “will create an extraordinary experience for all our guests. We are proud to introduce this unique showcase blending history, art and innovation.”