If you’re one of the lucky ones with a ticket to this weekend’s RMB Latitudes Art Fair, this is what to expect.

By James Sey

Latitudes Art Fair relaunches as a physical fair this Friday 26th May in Johannesburg and will undoubtedly become one of the absolutely essential Joburg art experiences. Launched in 2019 in a fairly conventional trade fair setting in Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square, the coming of lockdowns meant that co-founders Lucy MacGarry and Roberta Coci moved the entire operation online, as one of the first South African entirely online art market platforms. The huge success of this venture, as an accessible and high-quality pan-African online marketplace for emerging collectors and artists, has led to the relaunch of the physical fair this year. 

But don’t expect your average convention centre art fair. The heavyweight corporate art presence of sponsors RMB has enabled the finishing touches to be put to Latitudes’ new venue, on a sprawling and lush baroque fantasy estate called Shepstone Gardens, set at the bottom of the Linksfield Ridge on the East side of the city.

RMB Latitudes Venue – Shepstone Gardens

Almost 50 exhibitors from sub-Saharan Africa and Europe are spread throughout the three tiers of this ornately beautiful new spot, complete with Franschhoek-sponsored wine bars throughout, live jazz and gourmet food. The venue, with its romantic stone staircases, hanging gardens, conservatories and fountains, offers a range of different layouts and experiences for appreciating the work on show and for sale at the exhibiting stands. It will undoubtedly be the cool art fair destination for the city. 

The wide range of major South African galleries exhibiting join a range of galleries from further afield, though the Latitudes organisers will be hoping for more pan-African representation in future. 

The work on sale at booths is augmented by several curated shows and a talks programme. The curated work runs under the banner of ‘co-emergence’, a message of collaboration, co-operation and innovation in the emerging part of the art market – an essential message in the dark times we live in. The talks programme, already sold out, is co-sponsored by auction house Strauss & Co, and focuses on educational subjects befitting a fair built around new collectors and emerging artists. 

Cinthia Sifa Mulanga – Mold me II – Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery

This focus and the unique venue provide visitors with an unforgettable Joburg experience, with evening fireplaces roaring and music drifting on the air as people wander through the nooks and crannies to find the artwork they love. Most of the fair has already sold out, so you’ll have to move quickly to get in on this one-of-a-kind new art experience. 

As if all that wasn’t enough, Latitudes headlines a huge spread of art-related events in the city this weekend, with the accompanying programme of ‘Open Studios Joburg’. This sees shuttles running between 11 different arts venue across the city, from artist’s studio complexes in the CBD, to the venerable Rand Club and arts hubs like Maboneng and Victoria Yards.

RMB Latitudes is a destination event and will have no parking onsite. If you’re planning on attending, Uber is easiest, but there is also the fair’s Park and Ride at the Old Edwardian Club, Houghton, just up the road. The fair’s exclusive vehicle partner, Lexus, will have a shuttle service on offer. A separate shuttle service will take visitors to and from the Open Studios venues in the CBD, an initiative run by the Meta Foundation in partnership with RMB Latitudes 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: RMB Latitudes Art Fair

For more information and bookings for Open Studios Joburg events, visit: Open Studios

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