The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), has been victim to tough times recently – the 2017 gallery flooding due to roof leaks, a previous curator leaving abruptly without a vision plan, and a general lack of maintenance. Then it was hit with questions from the arts community about the role and relevance of the gallery to a younger generation.
And now, the gallery has placed its fate in the hands of a new curator-in-chief.
Meet Johannesburg Art Gallery's new curator, Khwezi Gule
Gule who has experience working with this gallery before as curator of contemporary collections, comes armed with an insider’s appreciation of the way in which JAG has operated.
Appointed by the department of arts and culture, the KwaZulu-Natal-born academic and historian was formerly chief curator at the Soweto Museums, which includes the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum and the Kliptown Open Air Museum.
With the experience gained from his travels, visiting and viewing museums and galleries all over the world, Gule hopes to elevate JAG to a world status. The gallery says his vision is to transform JAG into a must-see in Johannesburg.
I have seen a number of museums in some of the biggest cities - including Madrid, London, New York and São Paulo, among others - and I think we need to measure up to those international standards.— Khwezi Gule, Johannesburg Art Gallery curator
However, I also think that there has to be a way of rethinking what the role of the museum ought to be in our context. Whether it is in our exhibitions, or in our collecting policies and educational programmes, our ethos has to reflect an African outlook. The JAG has to become one of the leading museums of art on the continent— Khwezi Gule, Johannesburg Art Gallery curator
It’s with this that Gule wants to interrogate the place and purpose of JAG within the city’s context - in order to create a more relevant broader curatorial strategy.
“Whether it is in our exhibitions, or in our collecting policies and educational programmes, our ethos has to reflect an African outlook. The JAG has to become one of the leading museums of art on the continent,” Gule told Huffington Post in an interview.
Visit JAG at Cnr Klein and King George Streets, Joubert Park.