Contemporary artists Thonton Kabeya and Ayanda Mabulu’s stunning debut exhibitions with Everard Read Gallery attract crowds

By Edward Tsumele

If there is something that is close to a binge on contemporary art from Africa, it happened recently at the opening of two exhibitions at Everard Read Gallery in Rosebank by two artists that all along have been working as independent artists not attached to any gallery. Now Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Johannesburg based contemporary artist, Thonton Kabeya and Cape Town born artist, and now Johannesburg based, Ayanda Mabulu, have a new home at Everard Read Gallery, with Mabulu’s show titled The Healers opening at Circa Gallery across the road on June 23, 2022, while that of Kabeya opened on Saturday, June 25, 2022 at the opposite Everard Read Gallery. It is significant to note that these two artists are now signed to this gallery, an institution that has the distinction of being the oldest gallery in art history in South Africa.

It is also important to note that these two artists have over the years worked independently, successfully, creating their art and marketing it themselves.  Technically, these artists already have an established market, and are now melding that with a well established market of Everard Read Gallery. No wonder that both exhibitions attracted huge crowds (I missed Mabulu’s opening, but I was able to attend Kabeya’s on Saturday). Saturday’s opening of Kabeya’s exhibition titled Pasad saw many an art lover and collect converge at the gallery to enjoying viewing and for those with heavy pockets buying some art pieces that form this stunning display of creativity. Using a technical that he calls canvas sculpting, Kebeya’s art practice, which is steeped in deep in the Rhumba dance roots that his native country is known for, has distinguished him from his contemporaries in South Africa.

Some of the art works show hilarious scenes of dance, while others are simply beautiful abstracts, this is not an exhibition to miss, especially for those looking for art pieces that are appealing to view and may even put a smile on your face, especially those that show dancing scenes. Many were attracted to these pieces during the opening function. And those that remained there for long enough, they were even given a taste of the Rhumba dance by the artist later in the afternoon of Saturday..

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