Southern Guild announces its expansion to Los Angeles with a gallery in Melrose Hill
Southern Guild is pleased to announce its expansion to Los Angeles, California in February 2024, making it the first in South Africa to open a permanent gallery space in the U.S.
Located on Western Avenue in a historic 1920s building in Melrose Hill, the 5,000 sqft gallery is designed by Evan Raabe Architecture Studio (ERĀS), a Los Angeles-based firm known for designing the Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles flagship and Christie’s Beverly Hills, among others. Adjoining a courtyard and restaurant, the gallery’s locale will serve as a destination for the public to enjoy a robust cultural experience. Featuring three large-scale exhibition spaces, as well as meeting and viewing rooms, its transformed interior will further provide a flexible setting in which to showcase their expansive roster of artists from South Africa, Benin, Congo, Iran, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, and beyond.
Co-founder Trevyn McGowan comments: “Over the past 16 years Southern Guild has grown tremendously, from a single gallery in Cape Town and a small roster of artists to include numerous exhibition spaces, artists studios, a residency programme, and regular participation in art fairs around the world, but our expansion to the United States is truly a milestone. We are thrilled to broaden our reach by providing a permanent platform to showcase our artists’ unparalleled work in the United States.”
Founded in 2008, Southern Guild’s rigorous curatorial programme foregrounds unprecedented modes of making, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and the ingenuity of the human hand. With a 5,000 sqft gallery at the V&A Waterfront and an 8,000 sqft office and studio space in an adjacent precinct, Southern Guild works closely with artists on artwork production and exhibition-making to foster their careers and articulate their voice to an international audience. In the true spirit of a guild, the gallery is rooted in the principles of community and collaboration, and grew out of a desire to provoke new work, facilitate alliances between differing disciplines, and articulate what it means to be human.
Adds co-founder Julian McGowan: “While many of our artists are self-taught, they are also masters of their chosen discipline, having honed their skills for decades if not generations. Craft and design are rooted in Africa’s cultural fabric, as the site of the very first toolmakers and artisans, the continent has a unique artistic legacy that exists at the intersection of those roots and a global artistic discourse. The art coming out of the region is thus unlike anything else and these are the pioneering creative voices we seek to champion.”
The dual inaugural exhibitions in Los Angeles will include Mother Tongues, which celebrates standout artists from the gallery’s roster, and a solo exhibition of monumental ceramic sculpture by Zizipho Poswa. Highlighting the socially embedded role of African art throughout history and the marriage of personal narrative with Africa’s current geo-political, economic, cultural and ecological context, Mother Tongues features artists such as Zanele Muholi, Andile Dyalvane, Porky Hefer, Manyaku Mashilo, Madoda Fani, Kamyar Bineshtarigh and Oluseye, amongst others. Accompanying this group presentation, Zizipho Poswa’s solo exhibition will feature her most ambitious body of work to date, a series of sculptures reaching heights of over 8 feet tall, made during her recent summer-long residency at the Center for Contemporary Ceramics at California State University in Long Beach (CSULB).
Trevyn McGowan continues: “We were drawn to Los Angeles because its palpable vibrancy is similar to that of Cape Town and believe it will be perfectly suited to our particular brand of innovative art space. Our gallery model is a rather disruptive and progressive one and focuses on cultural preservation in all its forms, which in addition to rich craft traditions includes spirituality, ancestral knowledge, and ecology.”
Ahead of Southern Guild’s expansion, the gallery will participate in The Armory Show in New York from September 8-10, where they will present a new large-scale bronze sculpture by Zizipho Poswa, alongside work by Kamyar Bineshtarigh, Manyaku Mashilo, and Oluseye. Rooted in a shift toward a new African vanguard where purpose and representation can be renegotiated with vital agency, the featured artists speak to alternate worlds as a means of shedding historic traumas and reimagining a healed, whole and more abundant self. In addition to their booth in the main fair, Zizipho Poswa will be featured in Armory Off-Site at the US Open. The artist will present a work from her Umthwalo series (meaning “load”), which pays tribute to Southern Africa’s rural women and the heavy burdens they balance on their heads, often walking long distances on foot.