South Africa's 'Mother City' Cape Town is known as one of the oldest and, contrarily, the most contemporary city in the country. It has since become a beacon of art, culture, music, and fashion for tourists and entrepreneurs alike. With a stunning and vibrant city center a mere 15 minutes away from the beach, it’s no wonder Cape Town has been described as one of the most popular and influential cities in the world. This status without a doubt applies to the galleries and exhibits around the city which showcase the talents and stories of the featured and up-and-coming artists.
The rich and complex history of the city, drives the force behind the exhibits displayed in many of the gallery houses in Cape Town’s CBD including Youngblood Africa, 99 Loop, The Cape Gallery, and Gallery MOMO. While the country’s tortured history plays an integral role in the inspiration behind many of the exhibitions, the country’s intellectual and cultural growth has spearheaded the movement to the city’s contemporary art culture. Below, The Folklore has created a comprehensive list of must-see art galleries in Cape Town.
16 Buiten Street, Cape Town, South Africa
African contemporary art and the African diaspora is personified through the exhibitions displayed at the Gallery MOMO. Opened in 2003, Gallery MOMO has locations both in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with its Cape Town space providing its attendees with a crisp and minimalistic space that stylishly highlights the contributors’ artworks. Featured artists include local talents like Dillon Marsh as well as pieces from 20th century South African sculptors like Dumile Feni. While currently under renovations, the gallery’s Cape Town space will be up and running again at the end of the January 2019.
99 Loop Street, Cape Town, South Africa
The 99 Loop Street art gallery, stylised as L99P, is situated in the heart of Cape Town’s city centre and is one of the newest additions to Cape Town’s art scene. The gallery’s large windows and modern interior give the sculptures, paintings and photographs a warm sunlit feel which illuminate the pieces. The defining feature is the reading area and courtyard where visitors are able to bask in the local artistry. With vibrant exhibitions from Anastasia Pather and Wim Legrand, this gallery is one not to be missed.
The Cape Gallery
60 Church Street, Cape Town, South Africa
The 19th century Dutch façade built by the early Dutch settlers is maintained in the refurbishing of The Cape Gallery, a gallery which brings to life antique sculptures and paintings of the fauna and flora that has become distinctive of the Cape scenery. Surrounded by the city centre’s defining local boutiques, galleries and eateries, The Cape Gallery’s historically conservative approach has evolved to highlight the African-ness of the city.
56 Church Street, Cape Town, South Africa
Wooden walls and high-rise ceilings accompanied with floor to ceiling glass doors, give the 230-year-old heritage site a light and airy feel. SMITH Studio Gallery features unmatched stunning acrylic paintings and storytelling photography. Current exhibitions by a group of artists titled Rendezvous disregard mainstream exhibitions of art and bring forth each artists’ individual styles and stories.
53 Church Street, Cape Town, South Africa
As with the SMITH Studio Gallery, Chandler House occupies an 19th century relic that was transformed into a chic art gallery. The gallery opened its doors in 2013 by name bearer Michael Chandler who initially opened shop to showcase his designs of antique ceramics and homeware, but has since opened its arms to budding artists and designers. This little store may be tucked away in the vibrancy of Church Street, but it’s worth looking out for.
Association for Visual Arts Gallery
35 Church Street, Cape Town, South Africa
The beauty of art and nurturing the artist come together at the Association for Visual Arts Gallery – also known as the AVA – where art development and the outreach programmes created for and by artists have been its aims since the late 1980s. The AVA provides a platform situated in the hustle and bustle of Cape Town’s city centre for local artists to express themselves to the public through many mixed medium methods that will blow you away.
70-74 Bree Street, Cape Town, South Africa
Bree Street is one of the most well-known and visited streets in Cape Town’s city centre and the Youngblood Africa art gallery is without a doubt one of the many reasons why. Three stories of sculptures and paintings cover the walls and floors of this majestic building giving you many more reasons to stay. The ground floor also holds a mini café and bar with delectable canapés and drinks to complete the fun and contemporary ambiance of the gallery.