Inner city Johannesburg art collective Asisebenze takes works by emerging and established artists into heart of corporate South Africa-Sandton

The exhibition titled Inner City Views representing 22 artists is on till July 31, 2023 at Sanlam Private Wealth 11 Alice Lane, Sandton.

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

 If you went to the sixth floor of financial services firm Sanlam Private Wealth in Sandton right now, for a moment you be excused for thinking that you are in an art oasis  that tells  several stories of our daily existence and diversity, instead of being in a corporate office. This is because curator and writer Nolan Stevens has meticulously assembled the works of artists whose works adorn the walls and centre spaces of this floor right in the centre of Sandton.

Fumani Walter

I had an opportunity last week to visit the Inner City Views exhibition that practically brings emerging art to the heart of Sandton, taking it away from  inner city studios of Asisebenze art collective where all the 22 artists work from on to the heart of corporate South Africa in Sandton.

This fact is quite important in that often inner city artists struggle to attract those with money to attend and possibly collect at to inner city exhibition spaces from where the majority of both established and emerging artist work.  Of course there are various reasons for that, but we will not right now go into the complicated issue of why those with deep pockets to afford buying art, find the city scary, and therefore robbing art talent of an opportunity to expose their art to a potentially lucrative market for their creations. This exhibition by Asisebenze is therefore an innovative way to marketing art works by some of the country’s creators – by taking it to the door steps of corporate South Africa. In other words, the art is going to where the money is.

Mummy Khumalo

“When we hosted an exhibition of Bra Sam (the late conceptual painter Samson Mnisi) at Art Mile in Rosebank the idea worked well for us and we realised that taking exhibitions to spaces accessible to those who are in a ;positionto buy art, but are not comfortable going into inner city Johannesburg, is a viable way of marketing art by especially emerging artists that work from the inner city studios of Asisebenze,” Steven told CITYLIFE/ARTS in an interview.

Stevens has meticulously curated this exhibition in a thematic fashion, with art that speaks of the diversity of the cultural richness of this country. You will therefore be intellectually be stimulated by the various issues that artists tackle in this exhibition, from Themba Shabalala body of works that speak mainly about the mining history of Johannesburg to Walter Maluleke’s body of work that speaks of the rural life of South Africans, for example. It is also helpful that each art work is accompanied by text by the curator, making it easier for viewers to follow the story being told by these various art works on display.

 Essentially this exhibition is a partnership that bridges the skyscrapers of Sandton and landmark buildings in downtown from where the participating artists work whose aim is to connect emerging and established artists with serious art collectors. 

Zamani Xaba

This is a unique rolling three-month exhibition sponsored by Sanlam Private Wealth in support of Asisebenze Art Atelier. This initiative sees 22 artists exhibiting and refreshing the works on display every four weeks. 

The exhibition opened 10 May 2023 to a private audience of invited guests and is scheduled to run till 31 July, 2023.

 ”The Inner City Views theme is derived from the 1971 iconic Marvin Gaye soul classic “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)” that depicts the ghettos and America’s bleak inner-city conditions. 

 The Asisebenze artists bring their own unique flavour to this theme by drawing on their experiences and interpretations of life in the inner city,”says Stevens in his curatorial note accompanying the exhibition.

Phanuel Shivambu

 Works on display include oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas, charcoal and pastels on  paper, print on paper and mixed media works as well as repurposed found objects. All the works touch on themes relating to the inner city of Johannesburg, including safety and security, identity, movement in the city, cultural identifiers and of course the rural life of ordinary South Africans.

“Creating a work of art as something unique and of value that lasts for generations to come, requires time, care and patience. We at Sanlam Private Wealth have the same mindset when we build and preserve wealth for our clients, carefully custom-crafting multi-faceted portfolios tailored to each client’s personal goals and ambitions,“ says Theesan Moodley, CEO of Sanlam Private Wealth.

“It therefore gives us great pleasure to partner with the Asisebenze to bring you Inner City Views, a one-of-a-kind art exhibition which provides a platform for emergent and middle-tier African artists, contributing to the growth and development of the African art scene and creating a future for black art and excellence.”

 Asisebenze Art Atelier is home to more than two dozen artists who operate as a collective that aims to grow their talents and influence. Backed by a professional management team of art curators and industry insiders, artists are assured of housing, studios, materials and professional guidance. 

Tebogo Qingana

 Located at 28 Plein Street in Johannesburg, this iconic art deco building has been transformed into multiple artists’ studios that brim with a vibrant and creative energy. 

 Established in early 2022, Asisebenze has wasted no time in participating in top events such as the Cape Town Art Fair and Turbine Art Fair, as well as hosting multiple exhibitions. 

 Inner City Views has been co-curated by award-winning visual artist, curator and arts writer Stevens and long-standing art dealer Choni Gavin.

Mendel Medalie, co-CEO of Asisebenze, says: “We’re extremely excited about this partnership with Sanlam Private Wealth as it’s an important stepping stone to achieving our dream of creating a sustainable arts ecosystem. We want to create opportunities for artists, but also for art lovers to include uniquely South African art in their collections.” 

  The exhibition is not open to the public, although private and group viewings can be arranged by contacting Choni Gavin (083 750 9083 /,) or Nolan Stevens (074 823 5550 /

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