The Street Talk (a.k.a. Talking Streets) exhibition opened on Friday 22 May in Johannesburg. I was very excited to attend as I have known most of the artists and their work for many years, plus it is always interesting when street art enters the gallery space.
The show took place at Hazard Gallery within the Arts on Main complex in the Maboneng Precinct, east of Johannesburg’s inner city. The gallery, closely associated with NIROX, was formerly used as the NIROXprojects space. Now, a commercial space for hosting a variety of contemporary art, fashion and other exhibitions, this was the second exhibition on offer. The gallery’s Jonathan Freemantle recently decided to convert the area in order to attract a bigger audience and help to further build the arts and culture scene in Johannesburg.
Curated by graffiti artist and film-maker, Breeze Yoko, the show featured a vibrant group of local graffiti artists, illustrators and print-makers with work’s focusing around themes of Africa. Most of the artists are young and make their income through their art. Collectively, the artists create a distinctively African look and feel in each of their pieces – which is great because for years we have disregarded our African roots in our graffiti and street art, taking too much direct influence from America or Europe.
Mak1one, Dreadr, HacOne, Breeze Yoko, Rasik, Mr Fuzzy Slipperz, Nolan Dennis, Sindiso Nyoni (R!ot), Rayaan Cassiem (Rayzer), Atang Tshikare, Alphabet Zoo (Mine’nkulu Ngoyi, Isaac Zavale).
View the exhibition catalogue HERE.
The artworks displayed were in print form, with various editions and prices ranging from R1200 to R4500. This created a more high-end feel, but I think a lot of visitors may have been confused because there was no direct link to graffiti in most of the pieces, except in Dreadr and Rayzer’s ones. There was, however, some live graffiti action on the highway pillars in the street just outside the gallery space – Mr Fuzzy Slipperz was hard at work on a tall ladder in the dim orange light. Pity the artists could not paint the large wall across from the gallery as originally intended, apparently this amazing group doesn’t qualify in Maboneng’s eyes because they are not international (even though the current mural on display is fading, peeling and boasting a portrait of Cecil John Rhodes).
Visitors to the exhibitions opening night were also enchanted by some unique stripped down musical performances from the likes of The Brother Moves On and others. I particularly enjoyed the mix of cinematic guitar, synth and reggae-influenced vocals that the duo known as Johnny Cradle produced.
All in all it’s great to see artists coming together for a fun show like this. I’m really stoked on the output of each artist and will definitely be keeping a close eye on all of them for their future work. Go catch the show before it comes down, or before these artists make it big in the overseas!