Youth Month not only exists as a commemoration of the learners and students killed during the 1976 Soweto Uprisings, but also as a reminder of the important role young people continue to play in shaping this country, and the world at large. This framing and challenging of existing conditions, particularly through art, cannot be understated. Today we chat to one of our LATITUDES Online exhibitors, Morné Visagie, about a new initiative that aims to support primarily young artists and their studio practice, while helping to make original, high-quality work affordable and accessible to public and private spaces.
Even before the global pandemic, many artists’ lives involved a constant struggle to support their studio practice in the absence of a consistent income. Visiting artists’ studios, we saw that there were quite often smaller-scale works that formed an important part of their practice, but had seldom been shown.
In June 2019 Martin Epstein and I launched Art Gazette together with other art professionals and philanthropists as a business that supports artists to monetise this element of their practice. The curated, online platform and catalogue currently has an inventory of over 3000 works by 180 artists, and we are in the process of championing a broader range of artists based in the UK, US, Europe, Australia, Africa and greater Asia.
Before this, we had launched a non-commercial gallery space, called OPEN 24 HRS. It is placed in the foyer of a newly renovated building in East City Precinct, which is a design and development hub in Cape Town. It makes art available to be viewed and experienced by audiences that are not necessarily gallery or museum goers.
At Art Gazette, we encourage artists to produce works that, while artworks in their own right, might often be considered studies toward more ambitious work rather than for exhibition. Their pricing is never made public. This way we don’t undermine artists’ relationships with their galleries and together we can create regular cash flow to help with their longer-term exhibition plans.
Image credit: Portrait by Stephanie Veldman