Arts in Cape Town

Art is a mix of beautiful subjectivity and social commentary. Some pieces are traditional, bold and sincere, others are strange, hair-raising and controversial - it all depends on who views it. 

©Peter Baumber

The oil paint splatters on local gallery walls, the digital animations of underground artists and the thick lines of graffiti on dilapidated buildings all form part of South African art and its output into the greater society of the world.

Art has been part of South Africa’s rich and tumultuous history since the dawn of mankind - think back to the San people who locked their lives into the rock walls of their homes with animal blood. Since then, the events that shaped our country into its form today have been documented on canvas, video, handcrafts, audio and 3D sculpting - all within the category of SA art.

Cape Town art is a dichotomy of sorts - it is loud, obscure and heavily saturated in pop culture, but also smeared with the blood, sweat and tears of the country’s history, caught on the ‘paintbrush’ of local artists battling a throng of heartache, joy, identity politics, racism and classism. 

There are various galleries and museums throughout Cape Town that showcase both local and international art with a splash of nuanced modern Capetonian flair.

By Carla Lottering

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