Young Artists in Business | Interview with Candice Berman

Candice Berman, Art Times | pp. 10-11, November 1, 2016

“Art became a magic, a timeless space in which I could express my unconscious turmoil. The cathartic release it has afforded me throughout my life has kept me alive.”


Candice Berman is a young gallery owner from Bryanston. One of the fastest developing art establishments in Johannesburg, Candice Berman Fine Art Gallery has proved successful at various prominent art fairs, both in South Africa and abroad. The gallery also represents over 30 quality artists, both emerging and established.


“My love for art was brought about through my education, first and foremost. I was fortunate enough to attend the Michael Mount Waldorf School in Bryanston, where the Rudolph Steiner philosophy informs the child’s development through encouraging a full awareness of the human being, so a focus on art and self-expression was instilled in me from a young age. The mentorship of a very special teacher, Mrs. Yvonne Louw, helped me develop at my own pace. She took me on as a spiritual-surrogate-daughter. She studied art as a student and so her method of teaching was first and foremost a visual one. The magic that she created in this non-verbal space became a safe-space to which I would escape the world.


The power of visual art being unspoken means it exists primarily outside of time. Words are only meaningful in the concepts they create in our minds. There is an unexplainable power in the unspoken, in the image. It is immediate and cannot be unseen.

Art became a magic, a timeless space in which I could express my unconscious turmoil. The cathartic release it has afforded me throughout my life has kept me alive.


My continued perseverance in the philosophy of art allowed me to work part-time in an art gallery. I was mentored by a very strong businesswoman who had then run her own gallery for more than 25 years. I chose to continue full-time instead of pursuing my Masters in English Literature at Wits as there was something enlivening about working with artists and collectors.

A few years later I lost someone very close to me to a suicide and my life turned upside down. The tragedy caught me breathless and I struggled to come to terms with the finality of death. I realized that my path was in my control and I had to live to my utmost in order to make the best of it. The partnership offered to me prior to this event had lost its appeal. I was shattered at what had happened and wanted to start fresh. I handed in my resignation and began my own gallery.


Fortunately, I would not be where I am today without the support of my clients. I have met such incredible people through the gallery. Many of my clients continued to support me and it gives me purpose and meaning to be part of their collection process. I cannot thank enough the amazing people I have met along this journey. My own love for art is continuously renewed by the passionate and tenacious people I meet.


Being a young gallerist is Johannesburg is however not glamorous. I often find myself in All-Stars hanging the gallery late at night, or up and down moving and placing art. On my feet the whole day and listening to the constant chirping of the telephone, there is never a dull moment. The team I work with also makes things worthwhile. Jess le Roux has been with me close on two years. A budding artist herself she has brought an exuberance and energy to the gallery with your charm and creativity. Issac Masilo is my right-hand man and has been with me from the start. His use of initiative and a can-do attitude keeps the optimism high, so solutions are found to every problem. Recently, Linda Busi Mthombeni joined the team. Her infectious laugh cannot but make you smile and her positivity is truly inspiring. I love coming to work everyday because of the people there.


There have been challenges along the way, and I have often felt like I have to prove myself because of my youth. However, people can soon see that my passion for what I do comes from the heart and the confidence I have in my artists and collections hopefully alleviates any uncertainty. I always advise people to buy for their love of art and not only investment value. As our tastes and preferences evolve over time, we see a parallel development in ourselves and art we can relate to. I love that every person has wildly different tastes and sometimes people surprise me with their unexpected preferences.


The artists I promote are mainly South African. There are incredible things happening in the art world at the moment. For instance, John-Michael Metelerkamp’s distinct style rejects all principles of art. His defiant compositions reject focal point, the rule of thirds and depth of field; yet his paintings are awe-inspiring in their mania. There is a sense of unease and anxiety and yet a calm within the chaos of his works. They embody the timelessness of which I spoke earlier as they transport the viewer to a hypothetical place of terror which immortalizes an anxiety with which we are all familiar. Instantly, in an image, we are transported and it is within us that the essence of the artwork forever exists. It is not every day that I get “wowed” by a painter but Metelerkamp’s immersion of trauma I into his works really triggered something in me. I certainly think he is one of the most interesting painters to watch.

I suppose the magic is in the viewing. Once we assimilate an artist’s visual dialogue through his/her work, we preserve that meaning in a place it can only truly exist – within ourselves.”


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