Inside the studio

Contemporary art by African artists


At first glance, Greg Lazarus’s office at Image Swing HQ looks like any busy startup: the team huddled around a screen, quadruple shot lattes in hand, shouting ideas over each other and typing furiously, while notifications from a hundred different devices keep beeping into the aether.  


But there’s an unmistakable difference. The walls are festooned with art. Panting, prints, even a neon lightbox. These aren’t the bland watercolours you see in your typical dreary waiting room or cliched Old Masters prints your dentist might hang up. 


There are gritty cityscapes. Socially charged drawing by artists with something urgent to say. On the wall opposite, a vivid abstract triptych, an experiment in colour and form. There’s even a framed print by anti-establishment Afrikaans artist-provocateur Conrad Botes. 


There’s no obvious theme tying these items together and yet it all … just works. The collection has an indefinable coherence that amplifies the viewer’s appreciation for each individual work while also creating an overall effect that feels bigger than the sum of its parts.


The thrill of the collector


It’s a skill Greg wants to teach others, the subtle art of curating your own collection. Anyone can learn, but it takes experimentation and persistence. Finding work that speaks to you, seeing how it hangs together, constantly seeking out new artists and styles. In many ways, the search for that new piece is its own reward: endlessly intellectually, aesthetically and culturally stimulating and an ongoing opportunity to inhabit new ways of seeing the world.


Nice art if you can get it


But here’s the catch: to build a hot new art collection you need access to the hottest new art. And while African artists are putting out some of the most exciting work in the world right now, almost nobody except a small circle of well-connected and well-heeled collectors has reliable access to their work.


The problem, Greg explains, is that the artists don’t have the access to markets they deserve and art lovers are being deprived of a chance to enjoy a powerful and diverse body of work. “These are some of the best artists working anywhere in the world right now, but you have the resources and connections to get your hand on their stuff.” 


“I wish I could take people for a walking tour through downtown Joburg or to artists’ studios in cities around Africa,” Greg says. “These spaces are buzzing with creative energy; where all kinds of influences come together, music, fashion, literature, photography and fine art.”


“But if I can’t bring them to Africa’s creative centres, I can at least connect people with the real thing - with authentic cutting-edge fine art made by Africa’s most exciting artists.”


A bridge between worlds


Image Swing was founded to bridge the disconnect between artists and art lovers. The service gives ultra talented African artists a platform to showcase their work. At the same time, it makes the work broadly accessible, for the first time, to an international audience.


The Image Swing subscription model means anyone can enjoy our art. We’ve done away with the massive outlay that comes with purchasing fine art, and developed a system that enables you to keep exploring and trying out new things. It’s the kind of dynamism that underlies the very process of making art.