New art leasing company by South African collector Greg lazarus aims to boost African art in LA | Art Blog
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New art leasing company by South African collector Greg lazarus aims to boost African art in LA

Posted on 25 February 2021

Greg Lazarus had no choice but to gaze for months on end at the art on the wall in front of him when he found himself completely immobilised following a stroke in 2018. At 28 years old at the time this was an unexpected and painful turn of events.

The art works that kept him company, presented an escape from the bleak reality of his situation. However, over time, he found his attachment to them waned.

"I had purchased a few pieces of African contemporary art and found myself amazed by the way they made me feel. Whilst laying there, trapped, I thought how fantastic it would be if these works could somehow be swapped and I could experience a new feeling; such as what I experienced when I saw the artworks for the first time,"says the Joburg-born art collector-cum-dealer. This line of thought proved the catalyst for an art leasing business intended to offer a constant rotation of new art to its clientele.

It has taken time for Lazarus to recover - he experienced a severe loss of motor skills, speech and sensation and it is an ongoing struggle for him to reclaim a normal life. However, the establishment of Image Swing, an art leasing company focused on promoting and exposing Americans to contemporary art from the African continent presented a meaningful pursuit that helped make sense of the traumatic turn his life had taken.

Blessing Ngobeni Artwork
Blessing Ngobeni's Figures and Fish (2015).

Establishing Image Swing in Los Angeles is a bold move for the South African art dealer, but he feels it is the ideal setting to promote African contemporary art. This notion is not his alone. Rele Gallery, a Nigerian gallery, have recently opened up a branch in that city. Rising South African artist Simphiwe Ndzube settled there a number of years ago and it's helped him in finding a foothold in the American art scene through the Nicodim gallery, which also represents African based artists, Georgina Gratrix and Moffat Takadiwa.

Lazarus built up a large collection quickly, which forms the basis of the works Image Swing offers for leasing and to purchase. Bambo Sibiya, the artist that triggered his affinity for contemporary art, is represented strongly in the collection as are South African artists. There are some unexpected works (abstractions) by the renowned William Kentridge, characteristic ones by Robert Hodgkins as well as those produced by midcareer artists known for their abstract art - Bevan De Wet and Zolile Phetshane. Works by hot young art stars such as Banele Khoza and Blessing Ngobeni, who won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award last year, and whose art was offered at Art Basel OVR in September 2020 by the American based Jenkins Johnson gallery, are also included.

Image Swing also boasts one of the largest collections of works by the Congolese painter Zemba Luzamba, who is renowned for his interest in the construction of masculinity in the African context. In line with renewed interest in black portraiture and figurative art, the Image Swing collection includes many works that would be defined as such.

"Image Swing are closely tapped into established and fresh artistic expression on the African continent. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that their collection boasts African artists pushing the limits of the portraiture genre," observed Mary Corrigall, one of South Africa's leading art commentators in Art Africa.

To find out more about Image Swing visit:

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