Art in the Diaspora

Southern Guild Gallery, Cape Town, Expands to Los Angeles

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Southern Guild, a Cape Town-based gallery, joins the growing cohort of galleries expanding to Los Angeles. In tandem with its debut presentation at The Armory Show in New York (7-10 September), the gallery’s expansion marks a significant milestone as the first-ever permanent US public exhibition space for a South African gallery. This new venture will open just before the 2024 edition of Frieze Los Angeles next February.

The expansion is a tremendous opportunity to support its artists while fostering international cultural exchange continuously. With a focus on artists from Africa or with strong ties to the continent, the gallery’s leaders believe that the new Los Angeles space will enable their artists to access a year-round international audience.

The founders of Southern Guild. Trevyn McGowan and Julian McGowan.

Situated in Hollywood, Southern Guild’s Los Angeles location will occupy a free-standing building within proximity to local galleries such as Morán Morán, Sebastian Gladstone, and New York transplants like David Zwirner, Sargent’s Daughters, Shrine, and James Fuentes. This concentration of galleries in the area makes it one of the few walkable art hubs in Los Angeles. The new space will provide ample room for large-scale projects and, importantly, parking—a valuable asset in the city.

McGowan appreciated the vibrant neighborhood surrounding the gallery, highlighting the presence of galleries, restaurants, and local communities. She noted that Southern Guild’s openings are known for being extensive, immersive experiences, and they felt Los Angeles, with its sense of youth and vibrancy akin to Cape Town, would be welcoming to their innovative art space. They were also concerned that New York might be more prescriptive and saturated.

Zanele Muholi -the Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness) series at Southern Guild earlier this year.

Since its establishment in 2008, Southern Guild has worked with artists from diverse disciplines. Their portfolio includes sculpture, painting, architecture, and jewelry design. They create pieces that blur the boundaries between functional and non-functional art, emphasizing collaboration and community.

The gallery stages exhibitions and supports artists in producing their work. In 2022, they launched a Guild Residency to facilitate meaningful collaborations and connections for artists. They plan to continue this collaborative ethos in Los Angeles to bridge their artists with the local art ecosystem. In essence, Southern Guild’s expansion marks a new chapter in their business. Their drive and commitment to their artists will foster an artistic community that thrives in the spirit of a guild.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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