The growing cohort of galleries adding Los Angeles outposts will soon have another new member: Cape Town’s Southern Guild. In tandem with its debut presentation at The Armory Show in New York (7-10 September), the gallery’s expansion marks the first ever permanent US public exhibition space for a South African gallery and will open just before Frieze Los Angeles’s 2024 edition next February. (Another South African gallery, Goodman, is opening an office and viewing room in New York this week.)
Specialising in artists from Africa and who are closely linked with the continent, Southern Guild’s leaders see the expansion as an opportunity to further support its artists and foster international cultural exchange.
“We have been attending American fairs and focusing on American collectors for many years, so it felt appropriate to open our first gallery outside of South Africa in the US,” says Trevyn McGowan, co-founder of Southern Guild. “Our artists deserve access year-round to an international audience, and that’s what this space will provide.”
Southern Guild’s Los Angeles location will be in Hollywood in a free-standing building within a few blocks of local galleries including Morán Morán and Sebastian Gladstone, as well as New York transplants David Zwirner, Sargent’s Daughters, Shrine and James Fuentes. The density of galleries makes the area one of Los Angeles’s few walkable art hubs. Southern Guild’s new space will provide room for large-scale projects as well as parking, a major asset in Los Angeles.
“We appreciate the vibrancy of the neighbourhood, not just from the galleries there, but also the restaurants and local communities,” McGowan says. “Our openings tend to be large parties with ceremony and ritual and different immersive experiences. As a gallery, we are quite disruptive and progressive, and we felt like Los Angeles would be accepting of an innovative art space. The city is similar to Cape Town in that there is a sense of youth and vibrancy. We were concerned New York might be more prescriptive, and it’s certainly more saturated than Los Angeles.”
Since its founding in 2008, the gallery has worked with artists from a variety of disciplines, including sculpture, painting, architecture and jewellery design to create pieces that are both functional and non-functional, blurring the boundaries between disciplines.
“Our artists have been evolving and growing, and we need to grow as well to continue to support them,” gallery manager Lindsey Raymond says. “There is a vibrant community of artists, curators and collectors in Los Angeles that we felt would benefit our artists. As our name indicates, we’re deeply committed to meaningful collaborations in the spirit of a guild, and community is at the heart of this.”
The gallery works closely with artists to support production in addition to staging exhibitions. In 2022, it launched a Guild Residency to offer artists and designers the opportunity to engage with its network and form or deepen connections with Africa. The team plans to continue this collaborative ethos in Los Angeles to create connections between its artists and the local art ecosystem. Gallery artist Zizipho Poswa, for example, recently completed a residency at the Center for Contemporary Ceramics in Long Beach, California. Poswa’s works will be presented at The Armory Show alongside paintings by Kamyar Bineshtarigh and Manyaku Mashilo, and installations by Oluseye, a 2023 Guild Resident.
Raymond adds, “While the expansion marks the next chapter in our own business, the community we hope to build is ultimately for the artists.”