05 December 2010 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Arts on Main

So I bumped into William Kentridge at lunch on Sunday. Ok, that is an exaggeration. I saw him, I didn’t bump into him. The point was I was having lunch at a place where I could have bumped into him. Like in the gents (if I was a man). Or walking to my car. Or just wandering around, enjoying the incredible space that is “Arts on Main”.

To be honest, I already felt cool just finding Arts on Main, so the Kentridge sighting was a bonus. The development is deep in the heart of the Johannesburg Central Business District. It is a mix of studio, commercial, residential and retail spaces in a newly converted early 1900s bonded warehouse.

The architects have preserved the historical aspects of the building, but in doing so, have transformed it into a better version of itself. Along with William Kentridge’s studio, it houses the studios of Mikhael Subotzky, the Seippel Gallery, David Krut Publishing and fashion label Black Coffee. It also has exhibition and event spaces, a restaurant (called Canteen), an outdoor cinema and a rooftop bar (although I didn’t actually find that myself). I did find paintings by Diane Victor, Penny Siopis and William Kentridge, as well as an exhibition by Ashley Johnson; “Primal Paintings”, a series of story paintings that “address sexual taboos and uncomfortable subject matter”.

It was a Sunday afternoon, so a few of the spaces were closed, but lunch was divine and I have an excuse to go back soon and see the rest.

In the New Year (23 January to be exact), it will also feature a Market on Main, a collaboration between Black Coffee, Love Jozi and Arts on Main, that will be curated by Jacques van der Watt. It will feature “fine-food, design and lifestyle products, local farm goods, seasonal items, gourmet goods, plants & herbs, fresh produce, cut flowers, organic produce & independent beers” - at least that’s the plan.

I’m going to go and check it out and in the meantime, practice my opening line in case I should really bump into William Kentridge next time round.

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