The Black Box is an exciting art exhibition and project space in Cape Town for emerging artists. The gallery opened its doors at the end of 2012 and is run by Charl Bezuidenhout, who also runs the Worldart Gallery next door. Great street art and illustration exhibitions of the past include Love & Hate Studio’s ‘Future Positive’ & ‘Time Through Space’, as well as Grant Jurius and Rayaan Cassiem‘s solo exhibitions.
We spoke to Charl about his gallery and the awesome upcoming shows relating to graffiti and street art…
Tell me about your gallery…
The Black Box is a space where I host exhibitions that are about more than just meeting the bottom line – it is an art lab. It is funded by Worldart, a business I started ten years ago, and I am quite proud of having created a channel that allows this level of unadulterated expression. With no government funding, little or no funding from institutions like the Lottery Board, and bigger corporate entities increasingly cutting down on funding for the arts, we need creative ways to keep non-commercial galleries alive. The Black Box is my go at it. Of course commercial galleries are important, but we need experimental galleries to ensure balance.
What made you want to open an art gallery?
I studied law, travelled wide, and did many other things before I found myself doing what I do today. With the benefit of hindsight, I can safely say that I gravitated towards the things that I value and love. It is important to manage your life in such a way that it keeps that door open.
Where does the name ‘The Black Box’ come from or what does it mean?
It is relevant on two levels: It refers to a device used on airplanes that record the pilots’ conversations and is built in such a way that it is indestructible. This device contains clues to the truth of certain situations. It also serves as the opposite of the “white cube”, a concept that has become synonymous with commercial galleries.
What kind of art do you showcase?
It can be anything, from street art to fine art to installations – absolutely anything. As long as I am intrigued or interested, and am convinced of its artistic integrity.
After hosting a few street art and graffiti related exhibits, what do you think about graffiti stepping out of the streets and into a white wall gallery?
Street art in galleries will never replace or constrain street art in the streets. It is art and art galleries show art.
What do you think about the current state of art in South Africa?
It is healthy. It always has been and always will be. As long as people have something to say, they will find ways to say it, and this is why it is always exciting.
Anything else planned for the rest of the year? Or anything that you would like to share with our readers?
I am excited by so many things: Our next exhibition, opening this week, is titled Crossroad – a collaboration between South African artist Roger Williams and German artist Dee One. A show with Love & Hate in May, and Beat Banksy in September. I’m also opening a new gallery in Munich next month, plus Khaya Witbooi and Kilmany-Jo Liversage’s solo exhibitions coming up at Worldart. It is insane because this list can go on forever.
The gallery is located at 52 Church Street, Cape Town.