"The challenging art of the Standard Bank Gallery" Top 5 Page for this destination Downtown Tip by CatherineReichardt

Downtown, Johannesburg: 42 reviews and 65 photos


Oh my, was this an eyeopener on the rarified world of contemporary art!

I have been meaning to visit the Standard Bank Gallery forever, but only managed to get there this morning when other plans fell through and my friend and I found ourselves in the Jo'burg CBD too late to connect with a tour we'd intended to do. Since we were already there, it seemed a heavenset opportunity to tick off the two 'touristy' things that I've wanted to do in the Standard bank complex: the art gallery and the Mineshaft Museum.

The Standard Bank gallery is located on the northern corner of Standard Bank City complex, on the southern perimeter of the Johannesburg CBD. It is a small gallery which hosts short term temporary exhibits, and admission is free.

When we visited, there were two exhibits: an inspirational photographic study on women living with HIV/AIDS and a bewildering display of petrified impractical clothing fashioned from Nguni (native cattle) hide suspended in mid air. The relevance of the latter in the greater scheme of things was quite beyond us and the equally inexplicable video of the (female) artist clad in matador garb and fighting an imaginary bull in a deserted bull ring was the final straw that reduced us to fits of girly giggles. By the time we reached the exit and were gravely presented by the security guard with an expensive bound book of the artist's work AND been offered free posters of the artwork as well, we were almost hysterical with laughter (and exited as quickly as possible lest he offered us a piece of the artwork to take home as well ...)

Well, each to their own, as they say, and having previously waxed evangelically about an entire exhibition of folk art forged out of gingerbread in Tallinn, I suppose I shouldn't be criticising other people's original take on art. All I can say is that it's an absolute pleasure to be able to visit an art gallery in Jo'burg in the first place (especially when it's free), and as the exhibits are temporary, by the time you visit, the material on offer may be more to your taste than this one was to mine ...

From a tourist's point of view, this is conveniently located only two blocks south of the recently gentrified Main Street precinct with its rich mining heritage, including the BHP Billiton building and the Hollard Street mall, the Mapungubwe rhino, Anglo American buildings at 44 Main and 45 Main, the impala fountain and the mine headframe.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 1, 2012
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