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Street Art in Johannesburg

Written by 11 March 2013 3 Comments

Street art is a big topic in almost any major Western city but in Johannesburg it’s really an integral part of everyday living. Jozi is the epicentre of the contenent’s art scene, finding fascinating ways to mix traditional African art with Western influences. The graffiti scene here is relatively new, compared to those in New York or London but it’s on the rise with a lot of remarkable talent emerging. What started out as a few kids illegally spraying walls when no one was watching now has grown into a respected and appreciated movement and a way of improving the city’s look and image, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by big brands who are competing to work with these guys. Most notable is the I Art Joburg project that has come out of a collaboration with Adidas and is worth checking out. At its core, 5 artists from around the world were invited to create large murals throughout the city, one of which was what locals now refer to as the MAMA building, with Art by ESPO.

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When you’ve found the MAMA building, you’re already in one of the most artistic neighborhoods in the whole of Johannesburg – Maboneng.

This is hipster Joburg at its finest with a great Sunday Market, lots of great bars, cafes and restaurants and the infamous Arts on Main, a building complex that hosts the 12 Decades design hotel, apartments and workspaces for artists as well as galleries, shops and foodie places. This area is easily the best to stay in if you’re coming to town for a visit and want to hang with the young and stylish. It’s also a great starting point on your quest to witness some fine street art.

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Another great neighborhood for street art spotting is Newtown. During the week this area feels somewhat empty, so best not walk here on your own. Better still, come here on a Sunday morning, when local talent is showing off their skills. Newtown in particular feels like one big outdoor gallery, with a lot of thought-provoking pieces on almost every wall.

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Another ther neighborhood notorious for its street art is the viby Braamfontein, where lots of students hang out and you can find some of the best bars in Johannesburg. The infamous Juta Street is located here that has been making a name for itself with its colorful store front and a ton of new galleries, coffeeshops and restaurants opening up.

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The best way to see street art while in Johannesburg is by getting on a walking tour with Jo from Past Experiences. She loves her city and has a wealth of knowledge to share about it. Past Experiences offers different types of tours tailored to your needs, with particular focus on the subject of street art, if that’s what you’re looking for.

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For more info on street art in Johannesburg check out Graffiti South Africa and I Art Joburg.

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3 Comments »

  • Big Blog Map said:

    Great photos. It looks so different to the street art in Berlin because of the sunshine. Do you think the subject matter was particularly different?

  • Derek Smith said:

    A little bit off centre with calling I ART Jozi as the most notable of the graffiti/street art landmark event in Johannesburg. That has in actual fact been a controversial event as no local Johannesburg writers could participate. There’s a lot of other real street art hotspots in Jozi, Troyeville particularly and the City of Gold Urban Arts Festival will have its third year in April – http://www.cityofgoldfestival.co.za/ – with internationals like Herakut, Pose-MSK, Kid Kréol & Boogie painting in colaboration with Jozi writers – here is pix of the painting that took place in 2011 & 2013.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43066879@N06/sets/72157626207532668/ &
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43066879@N06/sets/72157629468972684/

  • wondernuts said:

    I like street art. the LA River used to have some pretty awesome art until it was all covered up. Most, however, would agree the “art” covering the river was actually graffiti. Anyways, digging your photos. One of these days, Johannesburg! =)

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