Interview location Berlin. At the time of interview as South Africa excitedly entered Level 3 lockdown, Germany like much of Europe had progressed to a more lenient way of life allowing for greater freedom of movement and importantly for Barbara, exhibitions to take place.
Launching in 2018 and founded by Barbara Lenhard & Florian Gast, The Travelling Art Gallery is a South African artist’s initiative with the aim to showcase art to a wider audience internationally.
Knowing Barbara over the years, I have admired her tenacity, drive and absolute belief in everything that she does. She is passionate, loyal, supportive and is the woman behind many a well-known initiative including Chefs Who Share & Valentine Under the Stars.
Simply put, Barbara loves art. She loves the person behind the canvas and how art reflects a country, South Africa.
The Travelling Art Gallery premiered in 2018 and held successful pop up exhibitions in 2019 with big plans to travel in Europe through 2020. As Covid-19 enveloped our lives, Barbara and Florian made a dash for Germany optimistic about exhibiting somehow in Europe in 2020 not knowing the true extent of international lockdowns. Like many businesses, The Travelling Art Gallery became virtual.
If I think of Barbara, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Barbara sold her first piece of art 6 years ago un-intentionally and this planted a sub-conscious seed. Fast forward to now, Barbara has the ability to market South African artists to an international audience. Feeling privileged to work with these artists, Barbara feels strongly about promoting South African art to a wider audience as the buying power in South Africa doesn’t match the abundance of artists merely surviving, yet harbouring incredible abilities to show case their skill through their art.
Talking to Barbara, I feel like she is the Dragon’s Den equivalent of the art world. Artists have a dragon who is willing to invest her time, energy and network in order to improve the lives of these South African artists and make a better living for themselves as well as being proud to be South African.
After 11 years in Cape Town, Barbara calls the Mother City her home. Travelling in Europe but also connecting with European travellers in South Africa, Barbara has found a great sympathy reach in Europe. Europeans have great memories of visiting South Africa once or multiple times and the knowledge that purchasing one piece of art can support an entire family, is incredibly humbling.
The Travelling Art Gallery is about travelling together, working together and supporting each other. The artists trust Barbara and Florian with their art, especially at this time when the artists are not with their art at the exhibitions.
We discussed the relationship as guardian of the art and the similarity to clients trusting me with the biggest purchase or sale of their lives. It is incredibly important to me to be a trusted advisor. I like to build relationships and I know this is at the core of Barbara’s beliefs.
The current portfolio includes 22 artists including Andrew Ntshabele, Daniel Ramonsteng, Christa Myburgh, Jaret Loggenberg, Lazarus Ramontseng, Lebohang Sithole, Maureen Visage, Natasha Barnes, Moeketsi Moahloli, Pierre Issa, Ramarutha Makoba, Riaan Van Zyl, Shakes Tembani and Thabiso Dakamela. The full list of artists can be found here. Barbara is very proud that Cornè Theron will be holding her first international exhibition in September 2020 in an exciting urban location, to be announced.
What’s next? Barbara and Florian are delighted to announce that from the 6th June to the 4th July 2020, they will be exhibiting in Berlin and showcasing the works of Claude Chandler, David Kuijers, Corné Eksteen, Cornè Theron, Edward Selematsela, Mandlenkosi Mavengere, Michaela Rinaldi & Sara Gaqa.
After cancelations in Zurich, Vienna and Duesseldorf, I really do wish you every success at the Berlin Exhibition and for Cornè Theron’s first international solo exhibition in September. May there be light at the end of the tunnel for these incredible artists and the amazing guardians of art, Barbara & Florian.