The messianic bergie at Circa 2009

#167. Take in Joburg’s newest and hippest gallery space. Saturday morning and the sun was shining, the jacarandas dropping purple snow while artist Willem Boshoff held court outside the Circa gallery looking part messiah, and as a friend remarked part “bergie”.
I have spent months driving past that corner on Jan Smuts Avenue growing ever more intrigued by the ambitious oval-shaped building with its clean lines, spiral concrete staircase and it’s finned exterior. No cupolas, no Toscana Afrikana pretensions — just clean, beautiful lines, as they should be.

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

The Circa Gallery is the brilliant idea of Mark Read, chairman of the famed Everard Read Gallery founded when Joburg was still a dusty mining town, circa 1912. To read an interview with him from the Sunday Times click here.

Boshoff is, unusually, an artist who works in words, lots and lots of words. And they range from Latin to Greek, English to Afrikaans. He is humorous and smart and seems to have digested the globe’s greatest literary works.  As he spoke the sun shifted angle in Joburg’s blue sky and after 40 minutes I realised we had only covered the world’s first few million years.  And as enthralling as it was to be regaled by tales of courage and chance, by the story of Archimedes’ dying words and Penelope’s anxieties about her chastity and the creation of his granite sculptures that weigh tons and therefore make ideal Joburg gifts [you can’t remove them from their public spots without some sort of hydraulics being involved, definitely more elegant than having them chained to the space] – I wanted in on Circa.

The gallery is a remarkable space — its top floor opening out onto the city offering a remarkable view of the urban forest of Joburg while its interiors are cool and shaded. It has been linked by a pathway to the Everard Read Gallery — a contrast that is full of light, wide open spaces, traditional landscapes.  Circa is ambitious, beautiful and located perfectly among the hotch-potch architectural generica of Rosebank’s little business district. Every city deserves such a building. In short its well described by one of Boshoff’s R520 000 wooden masterpieces.

Willem Boshoff

Willem Boshoff

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