Large glass windows invite curious passers-by to peek inside, where the dominating feature of the spacious light-filled room is a quaint wooden staircase leading to the first floor which, with the creative use of glass walls, has been made into an exhibit itself.
Current is the title of Smith’s first group show – a gathering of prints, drawings, paintings, and photographs which showcase the work of contemporary Southern African artists who will be exhibiting at Smith over the next few months: Dale Lawrence, Grace Cross, Chloe Reid, Matty Roodt, Christiaan Conradie, Elsabe Milandri, Rosie Mudge, Marsi van de Heuvel, David Brits, Julia Merrett, Jeanne Gaigher, Gabi-Lee Smit, Ronald Muchatuta, Danielle Bischoff, Nic Eppel, Kurt Pio, Ashley Walters and Sepideh Mehraban.
It is a truly colourful mix of artists, media and styles on display, and spending time among the artworks here is strongly advisable. Each artist requires from the viewer a shift in mindset – an appropriate response, perhaps, to a theme that examines how our worlds and our lives are shaped and shifted over time.
With so many impressions to digest, it is hard to pick out highlights, but standing out not just for its size, but also for its scintillating colour pallette is El Marinero, a mixed media painting on canvas by Christiaan Conradie. It shows an elderly man with distinct features and big, masculine hands. The face and the hands are separated by what seems like scribble or doodling until closer examination reveals fascinating detail.
Closer examination is exactly what this new gallery will be receiving. It is early days yet, but Smith shows a lot of promise.