26 November 2017 – February 2018
What does an elephant skull have to do with abstract sculpture? How did conservators foil a hidden attack from Germany? Why would you find a unicorn under a mulberry tree? Explore the surprising answers to these mysteries at Spellbinders, an exhibition dealing with the art of stories – and the stories of art.
The exhibition is structured around a number of narrative themes that include dreams and nightmares, mysteries of the JAG collection, memento mori and symbolism, historical stories and myths and fables and folklore. Each of these themes has its own dedicated exhibition space.
Some highlights include two rooms dedicated to myths and folk narratives from across the world, such as a story told through Ming Dynasty roof tiles, a look into different interpretations of deities and the surprising similarities between myths and symbols from a multitude of cultures.
Some of the oldest objects in the collection, Han Dynasty ceramics from almost 2000 years ago will also be on show, as well some unusual fans and the smallest objects in the collection – magnifying glasses will be provided! Another display highlight is a collection of German Gothic altar pieces from the 15th century – a certain conservation treatment for wood borer beetles was pioneered at the gallery in the 1960's.
Another room is dedicated to a collection of etchings and two sculptures by Henry Moore, commissioned by JAG in the 1960s. Visitors will be able to see original correspondence and follow the mind of the artist from idea to finished artwork.
The works on display will offer visitors a chance to see some rarely displayed works. Visitors can expect to see a wide range of the Johannesburg Art Gallery's artworks and artists from intricate Albrecht Dürer etchings and Dutch still lifes to master artists like Pablo Picasso, Odilon Redon and Gerard Sekoto, as well as a selection of contemporary works that shed new light on their historical counterparts. Whether you are an art aficionado, an aspiring art detective, or simply enjoy a good story, this exhibition is a must-see.