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Art dealers Justin Rhodes and Ashleigh McLean and design gallerists Trevyn and Julian McGowan are set to disrupt Johannesburg’s artistic landscape with their dynamic new space in Rosebank’s Keyes Art Mile precinct.

The 300-square-metre contemporary exhibition space, in the StudioMAS designed Trumpet building, is due to open this August and heralds an intriguing partnership between leading contemporary art gallery WHATIFTHEWORLD, and esteemed collectible-design platform Southern Guild, both firmly established in Cape Town.

Together they have devised an innovative program for their expansive new space, which can be divided for focused presentations and interdisciplinary experimentations. Each gallery will maintain its distinct individual identity, while simultaneously provoking a new exchange between artists and designers and introducing a new creative dialogue. This local manifestation of a global movement toward blurring the line between art and design will ultimately result in a curatorially focused intimacy between artists working in the two arenas.

With both galleries strongly focused on representing artists and designers from around Africa, this collaboration is expected to be a ground-breaking year-round showcase of the best work from the continent.

‘Johannesburg is an influential business and cultural hub, and its geographic location and reputation for creativity make it the perfect location for this exhibition space that will be a reflection of what’s happening art- and design-wise in Africa,’ says Justin Rhodes.

Says Trevyn McGowan: ‘We each have strong, unique viewpoints, a desire to change the status quo, and as our galleries and our artists have matured we have found we share an approach and, more and more frequently, an audience and client base.

WHATIFTHEWORLD and Southern Guild both have significant international programmes, collaborating with leading museums and institutions around the world, and exhibiting at respected international art and design fairs. With almost 50 artists between them, a rich and varied body of work will provide a very stimulating resource from which to draw.

‘We’re prepared to be non-conformist,’ says Rhodes, ‘and in forging this new partnership, we’re creating an original forum and delivering a one-of-a-kind gallery experience.’

The first show opens in August and will present work by Nigerian photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo, Zimbawean sculptor Moffat Takadiwa and visual artist Athi-Patra Ruga alongside limited-edition furniture by leading African designers such as Cheick Diallo, Hamed Ouattara and the late Babacar Niang as well as South African heroes Gregor Jenkin, Porky Hefer and Dokter and Misses.

Athi-Patra Ruga - Azania in waiting Circa 2008 - 2009 [ Nihil Reich ] Babacar Niang_Bedjenak Chaise_Credit Adriaan Louw Cheick Diallo_Mintoo Cabinet_Credit Adriaan Louw Dan Halter - Patterns of Migration Doctor and Misses_LALA Techno_credit VATIC Moffat Takadiwa - Found Black Keys Porky Hefer_Appropriated Chair and Stool