Culture Trip: Art Galleries to Visit Around Africa
Visiting Africa is an enriching experience.
You will be able to enjoy seeing the local wildlife and soaking up the scenery, but if you are interested in something a little more cultural, there are numerous art galleries that can satisfy the needs of any art lover.
Here you will find stunning traditional and contemporary African art, as well as pieces by international artists on display. Read on to find out more about the exciting art galleries you can visit around Africa.
Art galleries in Africa
Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa
The Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town is the first of its kind, being a gallery that showcases only contemporary African art by up-and-coming and well-known African artists. The museum was founded by Jochen Zeitz with the aim of supporting educational and enrichment programmes and encouraging intercultural understanding.
The Zeitz MOCAA has over one hundred gallery rooms, over nine floors and has some permanent exhibitions and some temporary ones. You will find an exciting and enriching display of contemporary African art, and will learn about how these artists envision the future of Africa through their pieces. It is interesting to note that the Zeitz MOCAA is a not-for-profit organisation, a rarity among art galleries in the world.
Afriart Gallery, Kampala, Uganda
The Afriart Gallery in Kampala is one of the leading contemporary art galleries in the East African country. It exhibits an exquisite collection of Ugandan and African art. It is filled with breathtaking paintings and unique sculptures from both new and established Ugandan artists.
You will find a visit to the Afriart Gallery a pleasant one, with a stop off in their craft store an absolute must. You will be able to buy art books, ceramics, statues, traditional fabrics, locally designed clothes and recycled glassware. Based in a double storey, bright red building, it is hard to miss this gallery and should be at the top of your list of places to visit when travelling to Uganda.
Banana Hill Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
The Banana Hill Art Gallery is a true gem that can be found on the outskirts of Nairobi in Kenya. It exhibits Kenyan and East African art and has showcased up to seventy artists and sculptors to date.
The paintings and sculptures are vibrant and unique, telling the story of day-to-day life in the cities and rural areas, as well as cultural traditions and the gorgeous landscapes seen in Kenya. The gallery was founded by Shine Tani, who is a brilliant artist himself, and his vision is to promote African art locally and internationally, while also bringing exposure to up-and-coming African artists.
Knysna Fine Art, Knysna, South Africa
The exterior of the Knysna Fine Art Gallery is a work of art itself. It operates from the historic Thesen House and offers visitors a collection of carefully curated traditional and contemporary African artwork.
Their venue, known as ‘A Different Drummer’ is in the same house as the rest of the gallery and is home to ceramics, objets de vertu, photographs and fine tribal artefacts. You will find South African, African and international artists exhibiting at the Knysna Fine Art Gallery, with both permanent and temporary displays for you to muse and peruse over. Paintings, photography and sculptures are just some of the artworks you will find in this stunning gallery.
Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria
The Omenka Gallery in Lagos is stunning both inside and out. It showcases some of Nigeria’s most beloved artists, as well as rising stars in the African art world. It is unique in that it houses one of the largest collections of art by Nigerian painter and sculptor Ben Enwounwu.
The gallery hosts solo exhibitions, group shows and themed exhibitions to give exposure to Nigerian and African artists. The gallery also hosts workshops to encourage critical development and dialogue on contemporary art in Africa. You will find a visit to this gallery an exciting and enriching experience both mentally and culturally.
The Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
The Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg is one of the prime art galleries in South Africa, and it dates back to 1903 when the people of the KwaZulu-Natal city wanted a public art space. It moved from its original location in the city hall to its current location in 1990.
The Tatham Art Gallery is famous for exhibiting South African artists who push the boundaries of art and its subject matter. You will find the Schreiner Gallery a worthwhile visit, which showcases art solely by artists from the Msunduzi region in Natal. The Tatham also has an extensive collection of ceramics from the Ardmore Ceramic Art project based in the Drakensberg.
Expand your horizons with African art
African art has changed drastically over the years. It is no longer the touristy ‘curios’ found on the sides of the street or in airports. African art has become a contemporary vision of the future of the continent, and it is important to see this modern art in the country of its creators. The list provided here of galleries to visit is not exhaustive but provides a good foundation of places to go when you are looking for a way to educate yourself about African art. Go with an open mind and be prepared to learn more about modern African art styles.