Deepest Darkest: A boutique art gallery in Cape Town reinvents itself
Cape Town is a city known for its wine, coffee, and art culture. Artists Krisjan Rossouw and Deon Redman are craftily reinventing the contemporary art game with their boutique art gallery which is an oasis and provides a unique and approachable way to view art. Cape Town is really an awesome city.
The concept of the gallery
With Rossouw and Redman’s approachable demeanour, Deepest Darkest reflects just that from the windows to the inside of the gallery. With over a year since its debut, Rossouw and Redman talk about how the gallery was conceived.
“It was a simple desire to create the kind of art space that I too rarely found in the years of visiting and buying from galleries both locally and abroad. Also, having spent years dealing with galleries as a client and/or collaborator, and then assisting my partner Kriss Rossouw as his own art practice grew, I saw an opportunity for a possibly different way of addressing the relationship between artist and gallery,” says Redman.
With their focus on creating an inclusive and welcoming space in which to experience and engage with art, Rossouw and Redman never intended to set themselves apart from other galleries.
Curating and exhibition
The curation process is the most vital component to a strong exhibition and there are certain things curators examine when curating the programme.
“Foremost is keeping abreast of what artists we may have previously shown are working on. For group shows or salon shows of two to three artists, we’ll interrogate connections inherent in their work. This is an opportunity to create new dialogues between their various practices. Showing work in unexpected collaborations is something we have always prioritised,” says Redman.
“We are also now examining a third collaborative programme working with organisations, focused on emerging artists from South Africa, the continent and diaspora,” they added.
Innovation in the time of COVID-19
Going through a global pandemic such as COVID-19, industries have had to forcefully find a way to innovate and reinvent themselves. The art industry is no different. The gallery co-owners, along with many others had to find innovative ways to showcase as well as sell art.
“Certainly the dynamic has shifted significantly. I would love to say that the online platforms we’ve always had in place and subsequently populated more densely since COVID-19 proved as effective as the gallery in operation, but that’s simply not true.
“The crisis and its effect on local currency did present an opportunity for some collectors to acquire work by artists they were already familiar with at a more favourable exchange. But we still find that active engagement, and moreover physical engagement was missed. So, along with many others, we chose to remain closed since March, which meant our 2020 programme was also postponed and required reshuffling,” says Rossouw.
With the gallery reopening in the first week of September, there were greater logistical challenges in the setting up of an exhibition, which the duo has had to navigate.
What’s next for Deepest Darkest in Cape Town ?
With everything planned for 2020 and 2021, future events are all up in the air, making it harder for people to plan ahead. Deepest Darkest is amongst the galleries that needs to adjust its plan to fit in with what is happening in the world.
“The idea is to retain our current focus of ‘by appointment’ shows with an added online and social media presence like 3D virtual tours of exhibitions, and Zoom openings with the artist in attendance. We reassess as and when the status quo changes to find new mechanisms of support for our artists beyond the traditional,” says the duo.
“So we think it would be fair to say that we remain fluid and adapt as required to ensure we continue to serve our purpose of sharing good quality contemporary work with as wide an audience as possible,” they added