South Africa's Goodman Gallery Launches A New Base In London With Exhibition 'I’ve Grown Roses In This Garden Of Mine'

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Sep 30 2019 / 12:29 PM

South Africa’s well-known contemporary art gallery is setting up a new base in London as it searches out new markets for African art

South Africa's Goodman Gallery Launches A New Base In London With Exhibition 'I’ve Grown Roses In This Garden Of Mine'
Courtesy of Goodman Gallery
William Kentridge. Ubu Tells the Truth. 1996 - 1997. Animated Film, 35mm film, DVD and video transfer. Seven minutes nine seconds. Edition of two

On 3 October 53-year-old Goodman Gallery, with bases in Johannesburg and Cape Town, will open a third base in London with an inaugural exhibition entitled I’ve grown Roses in this Garden of Mine, a group show featuring works by Alfredo Jaar, Carrie Mae Weems, Shirin Neshat, William Kentridge, Gabrielle Goliath and Kapwani Kiwanga. The opening will include a conversation between Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai and American artist Carrie Mae Weems followed by a screening of Chiurai’s film We Live in Silence.

“It has been my vision to open a space in London since taking over ownership of Goodman Gallery in 2008,” says director Liza Essers. “London is historically, and remains today, an important centre in the international art market, and a permanent position here will amplify the gallery’s role in shaping international discourse—something it has been doing from its position in South Africa for over half a century.”

Liza Essers

Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

Goodman Gallery was founded in Johannesburg by South African Linda Givon in 1966 during apartheid-era South Africa, when Essers took over she introduced over 30 international names to its programme of South African art. Goodman moves to London during a time when the spotlight is on African contemporary art. A base in the UK, Essers states, allows the gallery to further discussions with London’s many museums and institutions as well as be closer to Europe and the US.

The gallery’s roster of artists includes eminent names from South Africa and beyond, including Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, Candice Breitz and the estate of the late David Goldblatt. Its younger, up-and-coming African artists include Nolan Oswald Dennis, Kudzanai Chiu rai, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Grada Kilomba, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Tabita Rezaire.

However, many have raised eyebrows at Goodman’s bold move during such a politically trying times for the UK. “While we arriving in London at this particularly turbulent time, I believe that the gallery and its artists have even more to offer local and UK audiences,” responds Essers.

“The inaugural exhibition addresses poignant themes around collective memory and processes of social healing, which seems incredibly timely in the current context of an increasingly divided Britain where perhaps there is much to learn from the postcolonial contexts and multiple geographies that the gallery’s artists are addressing. As it has done since its beginning in 1966, Goodman Gallery continues to provide a platform for artists whose practices confront entrenched power structures and champion social change.”

Alfredo Jaar. Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness. 1995. Neon. 60.96x111.76cm. Edition of six

Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

The gallery will be the first to occupy London’s newly redeveloped gallery complex in Mayfair’s Cork Street. Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the it will occupy 5,730 square feet across the building’s basement and ground floor. Its new director will be Jo Stella-Sawicka, formerly artistic director of Frieze Art Fair. “The timing for Goodman Gallery expanding to London feels incredibly right because of the way the international market is looking at broader geographies and diversifying interests,” says Stella-Sawicka.

“Among major collectors and institutions we are experiencing a considerable shift towards embracing more global ‘art centres’. Goodman Gallery has been engaging in meaningful international dialogues from its position in South Africa for over half a century, and in the past ten years under Liza Essers’ ownership the gallery has become known for its work championing artists from Africa, the Diaspora, the Global South and beyond. The move to London brings the gallery even more firmly to the frontline of international discourse where there is great potential for its impact to be amplified.”

Goodman also recently announced that it has appointed Emma Menell as a Director of its new London space. Menell joins the gallery after four years as founder and director of Tyburn Gallery in London. Before she opened her own gallery, Menell was based in her home country of South Africa where she strove to shape post-apartheid law at the Johannesburg Bar where she specialised in constitutional matters and as the editor of the South African Journal of Human Rights. Emma’s commitment to social change makes her an important addition to the team,” added Essers.   

From the Autumn 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Art