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The New Javett Art Centre Opens in Pretoria

Gauteng art lovers are in for a treat at Javett Art Centre, where an exhibition of 101 South African artworks is on show amid a number of other highlights.

Supplied, Alet Pretorius

Javett Art Centre | House and Leisure


The Javett Art Centre (Javett-UP), a partnership between the Javett Foundation and the University of Pretoria (UP), officially opens on Heritage Day tomorrow. The centre aims to enhance engagement with art for students and the public, enabling more people to experience local and international art and artists. 

The director of Javett Art Centre, Christopher Till, explains that the centre aims to educate and encourage a conversation around the myriad and complex narratives of Africa's art in the context of the past, present and future. Says Till, 'The official opening of Javett-UP is the launch of an extremely valuable and significant resource. It is the culmination of a vision to personalise the art of Africa and to make it more accessible.'

Not only will Javett-UP be open to the public, it will also assist with the University of Pretoria's programme arts offering to students.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP Professor Tawana Kupe says of the promise the centre represents for the students: 'We believe this centre, which will celebrate South African artists, will assist us in our mission of providing quality higher education to our students.' 

Designed by award-winning Pretoria-based architectural firm Mathews + Associates, the structure is a metaphorical and physical representation of connecting UP with the city of Tshwane.

Javett Art Centre | House and Leisure


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Javett Art Centre: The Art 

Javett Art Centre will be home to four groundbreaking exhibits, including the opening show of 101 signature works of South African art, as well as pieces from the Javett Family Collection of South African modern art; an exhibit showcasing gold pieces from the Mapungubwe collection; and a collection of eclectic objects from UP's museums. 

Javett Art Centre | House and Leisure

Some of the remarkable pieces on show include Irma Stern's 'Arab Priest', Jackson Hlungwane's 'Crucifix', William Kentridge's 'Felix in Exile' and Johannes Phokela's 'Chocolat', among a host of others.

The opening of Javett Art Centre will also include an exhibit of a piece done by one of Africa's leading modern artist of the 20th century, Alexis Preller's 'Discovery' – an incredible piece of art that has not been seen by the public in 30 years.

As an educational tool for the students of UP (and the rest of us, too!) 'Discovery', which was painted in the 1960s, will undergo a 'live' restoration process in the public eye as part of the Master of Sociological Sciences in Tangible Heritage Conservation course at UP. 

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Javett Art Centre | House and Leisure
An artwork by Speelman Mahlangu.


The Gold of Africa exhibit will showcase precious items including the iconic gold Mapungubwe rhino and leopard, as well as many other pieces. The aim of putting these items on show is to educate visitors about the history of the precious metal and its use in precolonial times. The exhibit will also feature artefacts from the Boobier Mueller Anglo Gold Collection, which includes over 250 West African gold items. 

Engagement with the public will be facilitated by permanent and temporary engagements, exhibitions, multi-disciplinary events and educational initiatives. 

The Creation Of The Javett Art Centre 

Javett Art Centre was born out of the desire to create a space for the public to engage with South African art.

Michael Javett founded the Javett Foundation to create a one-of-a-kind collection of South African art and approached the late Stephan Welz, a renowned fine art expert and autioneer, to assist him with collecting pieces. Established in 2013, the Javett Foundation is a local charitable trust that aims to support philanthropic activities that fall in line with the family's interest in and commitment to the arts, as well as their desire to educate and provide skills development. 

The Javett Art Centre is a new platfrom that has been created to enable the public to access this prestigious collection of work. 

'Javett-UP is a place where people can come and relate, through art, to others to learn more about themselves and each other. It’s a place that tells the story of where we come from, where we are now, and why our African-ness matters. This is our Africa, and it’s our art,' says an official statement from this exceptionally exciting new art centre. We can't wait to check it all out in person.

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