As the UJ Art Gallery’s 6th curator Cabano-Dempsey has seen the gallery emerge as one of Johannesburg’s foremost art centres. The UJ Art Gallery (formerly Rand Afrikaans University) opened in the 1960s and has since hosted numerous temporary exhibitions and acted as custodian of a large collection of artwork.
The move to the new UJ Art Centre in 2005 opened a wider scope of possibility and the opportunity to reimagine the space in contemporary South Africa. Designed by the late Jeremy Rose the UJ Art Centre boasts both gallery and outdoor exhibition space that gently moulds itself to the shape of each temporary exhibition. An accommodating space and busy coffee shop ensures the Art Centre is always a hub of activity and the sometimes casual, sometimes intentional interactions between the university’s student population and the gallery has imbued the space with a young, lively energy. Something that continually comes through in the exhibitions.
With the UJ’s vast collection of work and two jam-packed decades of exhibitions to call upon choosing work may seem a daunting task, but Myburg has ensured that the choice of work not only reflects the highlights of Cabano-Dempsey’s career at the gallery but also adds its own voice to the gallery’s legacy. Over the years Cabano-Dempsey has taken the audience on a journey rich in themes from human rights, democracy and gender politics to the relationship between art and music, personal narratives and the fragility of life.