RMB Latitudes Art Fair Returns to Johannesburg

The second iteration of the event that challenges traditional gallery norms will bring together diverse African talent at Shepstone Gardens

By James Sey

The second iteration of the RMB Latitudes Art Fair will take place from 24-26 May at the unique Shepstone Gardens venue on the east side of Johannesburg. Guided by directors Lucy MacGarry and Roberta Coci, Latitudes is now a successful international online sales and exhibition platform for emerging and mid-career artists from across Africa and the African diaspora.

Latitudes Online partnered with art-focused corporate RMB last year for the first time to bring its annual showcase art fair to the baroque and luxuriously quirky Shepstone Gardens venue at the foot of the Linksfield Ridge.

This year, the successful partnership continues, with RMB Latitudes positioned strongly as a champion of the emerging and mid-career artists in South Africa and beyond, while also offering a space for established galleries. The positioning is important, and more egalitarian than the general art fair format locally, which tends to privilege larger galleries with additional resources for space and established relationships with curators, institutions, and collectors.

A major attraction of RMB Latitudes is the setting, a luxury lifestyle and event venue developed over decades by the family who own it. As it hosts this year’s Fair, guests who are new to the venue will discover some amazing sights over the three-acre property, including marble halls, sculpture pavilions, secret gardens and baroque Moroccan balustrades. Presiding over the gardens is the central art gallery space, run through the year by Latitudes.

“At RMB Latitudes we challenge the standard ‘white cube’ gallery model, reimagining the relationship between art and the viewer,” says co-founder and director, Lucy MacGarry. “By creating spaces with an interplay between inside and out, the design of the Fair dissolves the typical art-viewing environment, creating a space for art to be engaged with and questioned in a uniquely African context. We also make it our business to allow all industry players an equal playing field, with galleries, alternative spaces and artists presenting side by side.”

The commitment to changing the usual Art Fair business model sees pan-African galleries and artists with little local footprint showing side by side with their more established and high-profile South African peers. The format sticks to a familiar pattern, with a core of exhibiting galleries around the space offering work for sale alongside specially curated exhibitions and an international talks programme. A major special curated project within the Fair this year is INDEX, curated by emerging curator Denzo Nyathi. This show brings together a group of independent artists, unrepresented by commercial galleries, in a show titled ‘The Orchid and the Wasp’.

Denzo Nyathi

The accessibility and affordability of much of the work at the Fair is a key part of its offering. The work at the Fair is also uploaded on Latitudes’ online platform, allowing collectors around the world to browse and buy works from RMB Latitudes exhibitors.

RMB Latitudes Art Fair runs from 24-26 May at Shepstone Gardens. For more information, to view the full exhibitor list, and to purchase tickets, visit latitudesartfair.com

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and don’t miss out on regular updates from the YourLuxury Africa team on all things luxurious, beautiful and inspiring.