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The Journey of Johannesburg Reflected in Art at the JPC’s Johannesburg Council Chamber

Following the new developments, the Johannesburg Council Chamber proudly showcases various South African artists whose works each reflect the journey of Johannesburg and its people. With the aims to ensuring that diversity is reflected through art on exhibit at the Johannesburg Council Chamber, the Joburg Property Company (JPC) hope to depict an ever changing landscape and an emerging city that is currently being renovated and rejuvenated.

The rich cultural heritage of Johannesburg can be described in so many ways and one of the best ways to describe such diversity is through the eyes of an artist. The Chamber offers spaces which only an artist with vision can fill with various mediums of art.  Art is a reflection of the passage of time and how society evolves into what it is today. As buildings become space enabled and visionaries become more aware of those who work within those spaces, materials become more expressive and immortal. 

The Pergola Walkway featuring  “Oh Wanderer” by Pamela Sunstrum
When entering the Chamber from the Metro Centre towards the hallowed chamber of the SMART enabled dome, the Pergola walkway required a series of paintings that would depict a journey not unsimilar to that of the Long walk to Freedom as optimized by Nelson Mandela.   

“Oh Wanderer” by Pamela Sunstrum was selected using panels which trace the footsteps of the growth of Johannesburg.  Pamela’s work is a combination of self-imagined myths of space and time and the special red illustrations show modern Johannesburg transmitted between mythical bodies and across changing landscapes. The paintings also include moments of cultural isolation that accompany travel, migration and other processes of (dis) location.

Due to the Pergola requiring more than one panel, the single narrative had to read very well across the entire space. Because Pamela Sunstrum does various onsite installations to fit and translate into spaces designed for such art, she was the obvious choice. The material required, had to avoid wear and tear over time and as the studio glass manufacturing production process of heat transferring of artwork onto glass panels was available, that became the obvious choice as it doesn’t scratch and preserves the painting.

The Atrium showcasing “The Past and the Present…Now is the time” by Sam Nhlengetwa
A perfect space for “The Past and the Present…Now is the time” by Johannesburg artist Sam Nhlengetwa.  His work includes a series of subjects ranging from city scapes to jazz musicians to the gallery walls.  Printed in copper and in 3D, here Sam shows the people of Johannesburg queueing to make their mark in 1994 at the voting stations. From jazz musicians to artists and political figures, the art has brought to life the themes of the evolution of the African city.

The Upper Waiting Area featuring various works by Joel Mpah Dooh
In the upper waiting area where canvas artworks are on display by Joel Mpah Dooh, there is yet another medium being used by the artist. Joel works in aluminium foil strips and in these two paintings, are a reminder that after we have walked together, now we meet again, what has happened to us, both you and I.  Here the viewer is in the dreamlike world of Mpah Dooh, the flaneur, the observer, the symbolic maestro. These paintings were reminiscent of when he was delayed at OR Tambo for 4 days while his passport and papers could be sorted out.  In that moment he was not able to identify either as an individual of the country he was travelling out of nor feeling like a foreigner in the space he found himself.

The Lower Walkway presenting pieces by Rael Jero Salley
In depicting the cultural nuances that are relevant to people, pieces by Rael Jero Salley, were selected for the lower walkway space, Rael is not only an artist but also a cultural theorist and an art historian. He examines the relationship between art and freedom. In these monochrome paintings, he explores the representation of black people in relation to Western society. “The Wedding”, “Man Looking”, and “Energy”.

The Upstairs Bathroom Corridor displaying sculptures by Jaco Sieberhagen
In the bathroom corridor upstairs, Jaco Sieberhagen submitted sculptures of black steel to compliment the style and the windows on either side of the corridor.  In his submission, Jaco used different elements that make up our society and reminds those who are walking from the Metro Centre to the Council Chambers that there are more important principles that they have to keep in mind on their way to the prosperous future of the city.

The sculptures selected were “Walking Tall” (Man) and “Harmony” (Woman). Harmony is fauna and flora representing mother nature and consists of the silhouettes of different animals and insects. Walking tall is man, made up of a group of 20 young and diverse people walking in unity towards the future of Johannesburg.