Destination Johannesburg: Artyli Gallery

Interviews | 9th Apr 2021

Our team chatted to Karen Cullinan from the Artyli Gallery in Stanley Studios in Johannesburg.

Tell us a bit about yourself, and the gallery

Karen: I have always had a great passion for art, from a young child, I remember drawing and painting for hours on end, caught up with the process. I was too young to realize this was going to be my life journey, but when I look back retrospectively, it has always been my life journey. I studied Fine Arts in the 80`s, began my own business in commissioned artwork in 1996, however felt the need to return to the University of Johannesburg in 2012 to complete my honors year. I have been a practicing artist for many years and started Artyli.com just over a year ago.

What kind of artwork does Artyli.com exhibit and sell?

Karen: We are a gallery that exhibits contemporary African art, spanning drawing, painting, sculpture and ceramics. We sell and exhibit from our gallery, which is in the trendy creative hub of Milpark in Stanley Street, Johannesburg. We also, market and sell art through our own online platform as well as the artsy platform. We market and sell artwork to both the local and international market.

What is the meaning behind the name Artyli.com?

Karen: In 2018, an opportunity arose to launch a new kind of gallery. As we investigated the opportunity, we were drawn to creating a gallery model that was innovative, its beginning point being where the 4th industrial revolution met the gallery space. Basically, this meant a strong online exhibition and gallery platform, operating with strong social media marketing and e-commerce solutions for an international market. In 2018, Covid-19, was not part of our vocabulary, and this platform in 2018 was progressive. It was still under discussion; about how people felt about buying art online. Our gallery name was developed with this in mind. The name is short, concise, says what it is, without too much fuss, adding .com into the name, says it all. It was serendipitous, that we developed a gallery model that would survive lockdown, survive the pandemic, because it was a gallery model based on what the future looked like. Besides having a strong online e-commerce platform, we have a beautiful gallery space, where we hold exhibitions and exhibit mostly emerging artists with powerful top-quality artworks.

A gallery in Joburg, is that something you have always wanted?

Karen: Because I have spent many years working as an artist, progressing to running a gallery seemed natural. It is far more administrative than I ever imagined. I love the authenticity of working with artists and their works, the passion for story telling and meaning, the exploration of beauty and aesthetics powered by the narrative. Balancing a gallery with studio practice, is where the challenge comes in.

 Where do you generally get in touch with up-and-coming artists that you work with?

Karen: There are many touch points for new artists to gain entry to Artyli.com. Our social media platform, is vibrant and visible, making it easy for artists to get in touch. Because I have been in art for many years, there is industry familiarity, as well as the influence of our associate curator for Artyli.com, Lynette van Tonder. We also find that many artists will recommend new artists.

As an appreciator of art, you are quite artistic yourself, where do you find inspiration?

Karen: Your own authentic story is one’s greatest challenge and inspiration, to bring your own narrative forward in a universal way. I find I conceive new artworks in stiller places of being, I call it “ being in the womb” Music and sound is also a great inspiration to me, both conceptually as well as from an auditory perspective .

What do you love about Johannesburg?

Karen: Beauty in unexpected places. The diversity of many cultures. A developing cultural identity.

What do you dream of for up and coming African artists

Karen: International exhibition opportunities, more exposure, more sales. I also hold space for exploration and creativity outside of the need to earn a living.

What three words would you use to describe Joburg?

Karen: Vibrant, colourful, diverse.

Is there an artist in particular you admire, love working with or have on your radar?

Karen: Yes, Andrew Ntshabele. Andrew is currently creating meaningful and aesthetically rich artworks drawing upon universal themes. A talented, prolific artist with a work ethic I really admire.

Like the sound of Artily Gallery? The Saxon Concierge is on hand to assist with immersive city and art tours. Enquire today:

Tel: +27 (0)11 292 6000
Email: reservations@saxon.co.za


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