South Africa’s Goodman Gallery Is Opening a London Space as It Seeks Out New Markets for African Art

Gallery director Liza Essers says the move will help ensure that "interest for African and diasporic art stretches beyond a 'fashionable moment' and into the history books.”

Liza Essers. Photo courtesy of Goodman Gallery and Anthea Pokroy.

Goodman Gallery, based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, has announced that it will be opening a new space in London this fall. The South African gallery hopes to capitalize on the growing global market for art from Africa and its diaspora, as well as champion diverse voices at a time when uncertainty over Brexit and burgeoning nationalist ideologies dominate political discourse.

Goodman Gallery was founded during apartheid-era South Africa in 1966, and has provided an important platform for advancing issues of social justice through a program committed to “de-colonizing traditional art history.” The gallery’s roster includes prominent artists from South Africa and beyond, including Candice Breitz, Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, and the estate of the late David Goldblatt.

“Having a physical location in London grows the gallery’s impact on the global ecosystem for the long term, ensuring the spike in interest for African and diasporic art stretches beyond a ‘fashionable moment’ and into the history books,” Liza Essers, the gallery’s owner and director tells artnet News. In her 11 years helming the gallery, Essers has welcomed more than 30 international artists, and has particularly championed women artists, who make up more than half of her additions to the roster.

David Goldblatt, Domestic Worker on Abel Road, Hillbrow, 1973. Photo courtesy Goodman Gallery.

David Goldblatt, Domestic Worker on Abel Road, Hillbrow, (1973). Courtesy of Goodman Gallery.

While the prestigious gallery already has some relationships with African and African American art acquisitions managers in London’s wealth of museums and institutions, Essers says the proximity will facilitate these discussions further.A permanent space enables us the proximity to UK and Europe-based museums and institutions necessary to grow the visibility and opportunities that our artists deserve,” Essers says.

The gallery director says she is particularly excited to introduce the next generation of artists whose work “speaks to the African context,” including Kudzanai Chiurai, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Grada Kilomba, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Tabita Rezaire.

The new gallery is located in London’s tony Mayfair neighborhood, in a newly redeveloped gallery complex designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners. The gallery will take up 5,730 square feet across the building’s basement and ground floor. It is the first permanent gallery to activate the Cork Street redevelopment, which has so far only hosted pop ups, including galleries participating in Condo London as well as a charity exhibition of artists hoping to help refugees. Essers says that the choice was partly to do with the newly redeveloped space being “unencumbered by colonial-era architecture.” 

“It is rare to find such a fresh, dynamic and well-located space in London,” Essers says. “Watch this space.”

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