Housed in a 230-year-old heritage building in Cape Town’s Church Street, SMITH gallery is home to some of the country’s most exciting emerging contemporary artists. In SMITH’s words, the gallery gives space to artists producing ‘brave, joyous and timeless work that values and contributes to the discourse of contemporary art in South Africa.’
Bringing the New – a Q&A with SMITH gallery’s Jana Terblanche
Ahead of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair this month, we get to know the new manager/curator at SMITH, Jana Terblanche, and ask her what we can expect on the gallery walls, and on the larger art scene in 2018.
What have been your highlights since joining SMITH in October 2017?
The most fun has been fostering artist relationships and seeing how, together, we can make their vision come to life in the space. I have enjoyed getting to know the team and learning from them. There is also this particularly great feeling when you connect a collector to a certain artist’s work and there is instant magic.
Tell us about the current show on at SMITH?
The current show is a solo exhibition by Banele Khoza titled LOVE? Banele is a very special artist and working alongside him has been a privilege. His work is intensely personal, but also speaks to a greater desire for human connection. When in front of one of his works, you feel fully immersed in his world, as if scrolling through his phone. Banele unpacks masculinity and our curated online lives in a refreshingly honest manner. He recently won one of the most coveted prizes in South Africa – the Gerard Sekoto Award from ABSA L’Atelier. If I could advise anyone on art to collect, it would be to invest in Banele’s work.
What does the gallery have planned at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair?
We are showcasing a wide range of very strong artists this year. Jeanne Gaigher made some exciting work on a residency in Vienna late last year and we will include those works in our booth. Katharien de Villiers will present sculptures that question the way we interact with art. Rosie Mudge is showing a new take on her signature dreamy creations, serving as an appetiser to her solo exhibition opening in April. Marsi van de Heuvel reintroduces us to the natural world through her eyes and Michaela Younge is an artist to watch with her macabre, fantastical scenes. We will also be showcasing work by Stephen Allwright, Dale Lawrence, Banele Khoza, Frank van Reenen and Elsabe Milandri.
What’s exciting about the South African art scene in 2018?
I am seeing maturity in the handling of materials emerging from younger artists that feels fresh, but nods to greats who have come before. South Africa has such a rich visual history from which to draw, and younger generations are using that history and reinterpreting it for the ‘now’. Artists are realising the strength of their unique take on the world coming from a country so far from traditional Western art centres. They are building their own communities. On the other end of the spectrum, collectors are buying with purpose and with their collections in mind. It’s not about a single piece, but rather considering how works can benefit a greater whole.
What can we expect from SMITH this year?
SMITH will continue to grow our presence on the local scene and internationally. We have solo exhibitions planned by some of our most-loved artists including Stephen Allwright who opens late February. Mid-year, we will have some interesting group shows, including a photography group show. We have long-awaited solo exhibitions by Rosie Mudge, Anna van der Ploeg, Marsi van de Heuvel, Jill Joubert and Jeanne Gaigher. And we will end off the year with our annual Summer Show. SMITH will also be exhibiting at the FNB Joburg Art Fair in September.
For more from SMITH gallery, visit smithstudio.co.za.