It is quite a thing driving to the Johannesburg Art Gallery. You have to brave the streets of Hillbrow, keep your eyes wide open because there are people everywhere, dodge the combis at the Joubert Park Taxi Rank , breathe in, pray you don’t get hijacked (you don’t, no-one does), and then suddenly – you’re there!
You arrive at this magnificent building in the middle of an urban jungle. JAG is directly opposite the taxi rank and it is really just the last minute of the drive that is chaos. But it does seem like safe, organized chaos, and once you’re inside, it is a calm space, with plenty of security and parking.
I went to see the new William Kentridge / Philip Miller collaboration. It is INSANE. Brilliant, overwhelming, and genius, as only Kentridge and Miller can be. The work is called The Refusal of Time and is a cine-concert – film, sound, music, video, sculpture and art all in one. It is extraordinary, and on until the 01st February 2015, so you have plenty of time to get to see it.
JAG is the biggest art gallery on the sub continent. It has over 9000 permanent works of art, displayed in 15 exhibition halls and sculpture gardens. I learned that only about 10 % of the collection is on display at any one time, the others are kept in storage or displayed at other galleries.
Upstairs there were masterpieces – a Picasso, a Sekoto, a Pierneef. Downstairs was a contemporary graffiti exhibition; with some giant Jackson Hlungwane sculptures towering over the entrance. And in the courtyard, tables and chairs under oak and olive trees.
The building is impressive. The beautiful park that JAG leads into (there is one gate, locked at night), has been remodelled, with really pretty grounds, play equipment for kids and plenty of space for picnics. I am not sure if this is Joubert Park, which has such a bad rap always, but this was such a beautiful park. I shall let you know as soon as I find out! Or maybe one of you can tell me.
Entrance to JAG is free, and the gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Brave the traffic. Visit. And if you don’t want to drive, use Uber!