Thandi Sibisi becomes SA's first black female gallery owner

By Drum Digital
15 February 2012

One time model Thandi Sibisi aims to shake the South African art scene up when her own art gallery launches on Thursday, supposedly making her the first black South African female to own an art gallery.

The gallery, which she describes as “elegant, exclusive and sophisticated with a youthful touch,” will open its doors from northern Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch, kick-starting its operation.

The exhibition will showcase works by artists including SA’s Dumile Feni, Ezrom Legae, Cecil Skotnes and Kenya’s Shake Makelele among others.

She named it Sibisi gallery citing her cultural roots as the source of inspiration.

The ambitious 25-year-old said there are many South Africans yearning to become potential art collectors but no one appeals to them.

Hence she believes that Sibisi was the missing link between people who had never visited galleries or bought art before.

“The market is there but no one’s paying attention. Hopefully Sibisi will create new art lovers and buyers,” she said.

“I’m coming here to shake everybody up. I’m really going to try and give the world of galleries a brand new meaning.”

The Kwazulu-Natal-born enthusiast said she fell in love with art during her business dealings with international football body FIFA and the Department of Arts and Culture at the time of the 2010 soccer world cup.

Sibisi said that she had travelled abroad to get inspiration and form partnerships before setting up the self-funded gallery.

She said that she chose the Melrose Arch to host the gallery because of its openness and vibrancy and that people can embrace art,

“In a place with a lifestyle round it, they can look at the work on show at Sibisi then mingle with people, sit in the hotels, restaurants or coffee shops.”

The opening exhibition will be handled by The Apartheid Museum director Christopher Till and will be graced by politicians and celebrities among other dignitaries.

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