It’s Thursday evening and artist Lady Skollie’s newest exhibition, Good & Evil, is being hosted by Everard Read’s Circa gallery along the Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank.
I arrive to a tempered blend of fanfare and intimacy. I spot fashionista stylist Felipe Mazibuko standing beside the small, eclectic urban crowd organised in their respective little cliques, waiting to see what Skollie has to offer.
As I make my way into Circa, I notice even more influential people from the realms of fashion, music and art all gathered in this cauldron, simmering with excitement and awe.
Among those in attendance are actor and model Maps Maponyane, the blue-haired pop star Moonchild Sanelly, fashion designer Rich Mnisi, and Muzi and Fela Gucci from art outfit Faka – just to name but a few. It’s the new in-crowd.
At this point, I’m a little star-struck. In a flimsy attempt to conceal my nerves, I walk towards Mnisi to ask what he thinks of Skollie’s new work. He cannot contain how delighted he is, uttering one word in response: “Kuhle!” – meaning, “It’s beautiful!”
I stop Muzi on his way out of the gallery to hear his thoughts on Good & Evil, and he describes how blown away he is by the sizes of some pieces as well as Skollie’s use of colour.
I am quickly distracted by the lady of the hour as she whizzes across the room with her captivating presence, scantily clad in a Lezanne Viviers dress, cheerfully greeting guests and casually chatting to them.
I look around the room searching for the material that she used from which to draw inspiration, and I remember that she expressed her wish to display this material in order for the audience to even better understand her newly unveiled repertoire.
These include the books Fiela se Kind by Daleen Mathee, Adam Small’s Kanna Hy Kô Hystoe: ’n Drama; and even The Cape Malay Cookbook by Faldela Williams.
This exhibition is on until July 6.
I then find myself walking down to view the other exhibition that Circa is unveiling: The War at Home, by Teresa Kutala Firmino. Her exhibition is centred on “rewriting history as an act of reimagining one’s past in a world of pre-inscribed histories that have set themselves as truth”.
And while the subject matter might seem heavy and almost cryptic, her works of mostly acrylic and collage on canvas border on the dark, comical and painful.
I end my evening with a short visit to The Mixed Reality Workshop (TMRW) for some high-tech artistic exploration.
TMRW describes itself as “dedicated to the propagation of all forms of contemporary visual art, new media, interactive multimedia, and the panorama of hybrid forms of art and technology”. Boy, is it fun! I spend a quarter of an hour with my face behind a virtual reality headset and feel like a child again.
TMRW is currently showing The Invisible Exhibition, showcasing five virtual reality performances and 10 augmented reality artworks.
While I usually travel all across Johannesburg looking for good art spaces, the Keyes Art Mile holds a special place. Very different from the spaces offered in Braamfontein and Arts on Main, drawing a less adolescent crowd, while also pushing the boundaries in its offerings.
The Edoardo Villa sculptures sprawled all over the precinct add even more character to this space, pushing it closer and closer to becoming the Johannesburg art lover’s dream.