Cape Town is arguably the creative capital of South Africa. The city’s creative energy has over the years created a nurturing environment that continues to draw artists and creatives of all kinds to its shores. It is no surprise then, that Cape Town boasts an incredible wealth of galleries in which to view work spanning a multitude of genres by artists from across the African continent.
Here’s a look at a few of the most prominent art galleries in Cape Town:
1. Zeitz MOCAA (V&A Waterfront)
The largest contemporary art gallery in Africa, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA, opened its doors in September 2017. Located in the V&A Waterfront’s historic Grain Silo, the gallery spans nine floors and includes the German-born businessman Jochen Zeitz’s renowned private collection of African artworks and installations, as well as cutting-edge contemporary art from around the continent.
Thought-provoking contemporary African art fills the curated spaces inside this art and design gallery situated close to the picturesque and historic Bo-Kaap. In the beautifully laid out gallery, you can discover solo shows as well as group shows as well as experimental and project-based exhibitions. Their gallery staff is informed and helpful and ready to divulge the history and context of an artwork at the drop of a hat.
Eye-popping and cutting-edge local and international fine art and design is hosted at the 34 Fine Art Gallery in Buchanan Square, 160 Sir Lowry Road in Woodstock. The gallery has featured noteworthy artists like Esther Mahlangu, Asha Zero, Jade Doreen Waller, Norman Catherine and Mr. Brainwash.
Also in Woodstock, on the edge of Cape Town’s city centre, Whatiftheworld specialises in innovative contemporary work by emerging South African artists. The gallery calls a decommissioned synagogue home and features everything from drawings to sculpture to installation art and performance pieces.
Like its sister gallery in Johannesburg, the Goodman Gallery’s focus is on contemporary art within the African context by both local and international artists. With a history of supporting resistance art during the apartheid era, the Goodman Gallery is easily regarded as one of the most renowned galleries in the country.
Considered one of the most respected contemporary galleries in the country, the Michael Stevenson Gallery is also located in Buchanan Square in Woodstock. With perfectly curated international collections in an industrial setting, the gallery also has a space in Johannesburg and often draws art lovers from all over.
Conveniently situated in the V&A Waterfront area, the Everard Read Gallery opened in 1996 with an aim of giving a platform to local painters and sculptors. The gallery has expanded its operation to CIRCA, across the road from the initial gallery, which includes a sculpture garden and more exhibition space.
A welcoming gallery conveniently located on Albert Road in Woodstock, Art It Is proudly supports local painters, printmakers, sculptors and photographers. You’ll feel right at home in this eye-catching gallery which has a fresh approach to the way art is viewed, experienced and purchased.
Occupying an old jail in Durbanville, Rust-en-Vrede is a must-see when visiting this scenic northern suburb known for its magnificent wine. With three exhibition spaces featuring established and emerging artists, Rust-en-Vrede also has a clay museum and gallery featuring an array of beautiful contemporary and traditional ceramics that honour Durbanville’s history with clay.
See the gallery in our Neighbourhood feature of Durbanville:
10. Artvark Gallery (Kalk Bay)
This gem in Kalk Bay has long been a favourite of sightseers and art lovers. With its own range of steelworks produced in Retreat, this gallery promotes classic and contemporary art from almost all mediums.
Founded in 2002 in Johannesburg, the renowned contemporary art gallery MOMO opened a space in Cape Town nearly two years ago. The gallery supports the local up-and-coming artist but also features some awe-inspiring established international collections. Located at 170 Buitengracht Street, the gallery is a must on a Bo-Kaap or CBD itinerary.
Since 2006 the Brundyn+ Gallery has provided a platform for local contemporary artists and has established itself as one of South Africa’s leading galleries at the forefront of the country’s visual arts discourse.
Tucked away in the pedestrian walkway on Church Street in the CBD, Worldart’s collection features mainly contemporary urban and street art by local artists. They also specialise in sourcing pieces for collectors.
This contemporary Cape Town gallery can be found in the quaint district of De Waterkant, close to iconic settings such as the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Town Stadium and the magisterial grandeur of Table Mountain. Its interior is crisp, modern and bright, mirroring its celebrated sister gallery in Johannesburg. Exhibitions change every 6 months, with Opperman’s works exclusively adorning the walls. His craft is unmistakably his own, with intimate pieces containing bold subjects that can almost be seen as shadows stretching across starker backgrounds. In his own words, “For me, art is about sharing a personal experience”.
15. Iziko South African National Gallery (Company Gardens)
Located in Cape Town’s leafy Company Gardens with Table Mountain as the backdrop, the South African National Gallery is one of the foremost art museums in South Africa. The museum has large permanent collections of South African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art that change regularly to allow temporary exhibitions of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, beadwork, textiles and architecture.
One of the oldest galleries in Cape Town and situated in the heart of the CBD, The Cape Gallery contains works that invoke Africa’s cultural identity, from classic landscape paintings to sculptures and modern street art.
The AVA plays an important part in the growth of contemporary visual art, particularly in the Western Cape. It is one of the oldest non-profit galleries in Cape Town and hosts up to 50 exhibitions every year. With an aim of advancing art in the country, many young contemporary artists have made their debut at the gallery.
Located in a large Victorian building on Kloof Street, in the CBD, and featuring the popular Blah Blah Bar on its ground floor, the Erdmann Contemporary gallery promotes contemporary, as well as conceptual works by a select group of painters, sculptors and photographers.
A short hop around the mountain from the city centre, the Barnard Gallery in Newlands is a modern art gallery that showcases work from a number of top, predominantly local, artists working in a variety of mediums.
If you’re not sure where to kick off your tour of Cape Town’s fine art establishments, Artroute Cape Town offers tailor-made art tours that showcase the best art galleries in and around Cape Town. You will be accompanied by renowned art guide and South African art expert, Talita Swarts.