Bring out your inner mad scientist: experiment with unique spirits + meat cuts
Art, ink and couture at this hidden gallery
Add to your art collection, meet the Joker + shop luxury couture at Rare Gallery
Last updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2022
Cape Town is a collector's dream. A cauldron of artistic expression, whether you collect art, couture or body ink. Things just got a lot more exciting for the culture because of a curious new gallery hiding on Watson Street, just around the corner from Pizza Shed and The Station on Bree.
Inside the cerulean-framed door of Rare – the art gallery, cum-couture and tattoo studio – are highly sought-after pieces by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS, known for his vinyl sculptures, and couture from culture-shifting American fashion designer Virgil Abloh among many finds.
Rare is an art gallery, couture store and tattoo studio, all in one. Image: Rare Gallery
EXPLORE THIS IMAGINATIVE WONDERLAND
The sparkling white walls with bright paint spills, hand-crafted vinyls and neon lights feel like a comic book come to life.
On entry on the ground floor, you’re confronted by the gigantic cast-bronze phallus “Joystick” by Fringe, an anonymous South African artist. Just around the corner Fringe’s life-sized Joker looks you dead in the eye. It’s become quite a popular Instagram moment for influencers.
You could bump into South African music icons like DJ Waffles or Musa Keys at the gallery. Image: Rare Gallery
To the people running Rare, art is not limited to paintings and sculptures. The brand extends to fashion and body art as well; with Rare Ink, Rare Luxury and Rare Mode all under the same roof.
This has cultivated an environment for all lovers of fine and cutting-edge art and culture. South African Amapiano greats Uncle Waffles or Musa Keys have shopped RareMode t-shirts; young couples in their 30s bought artworks like Adjust II by Fringe for their new homes; and art enthusiasts bid for the limited edition KAWS Family Figures.
All the artworks are curated by the team at Rare. Image: Rare Gallery
ADD TO YOUR ART COLLECTION
Rare Gallery, which opened in June 2022, has quickly become a vibrant spot loved by First Thursday goers. It’s pop art persona, the buzz of house and Afrobeats also makes it a creative hub and outlet for future-forward art buyers who would appreciate aspiring artists like Buqaqawuli Nobakada, who is currently exhibiting “Glamour Girls”, a portrait series mimicking Glamour magazine’s front cover with black women claiming the space.
View this post on Instagram
Every nook in Rare uncovers more curious artwork. Fringe uses identifiable characters in his art (like TinTin and Mickey Mouse) to create provocative imagery; Bubblegum-pink Stormtrooper heads (big enough to hold with both hands); and oil canvas paintings of Snoopy comics.
Rare is one of the few galleries in South Africa to sell KAWS artworks, it is mostly available online. Image: Rare Gallery
Another rare addition are the Japanese MediCom toy figures Bearbricks, some of the most-desired collectables since the release around 21 years ago. Rare is one of few galleries in South Africa to have Bearbricks for sale in store.
The figurines range from “The Beatles” and “Muhammad Ali” Bearbricks to the limited-edition “Brillo” Bearbrick, 1000%, dedicated to Andy Warhol, the father of American pop art, wrapped in the print of the famous Brillo soap pad.
The smaller Bearbricks start at R8 000. Image: Rare Gallery
SHOP FOR LUXURY COUTURE
Just off the main gallery room, a staircase wrapped in moving neon lights, is slipped between a textured statement wall and MediCom toys. The “Rare Luxury” neon sign welcomes you into the couture store, with warped-bronze mirrors, plush carpets and artworks spread across the store.
The sleek interior holds major designer names like Virgil Abloh’s signature brand Off-White. Find must-have items like the Off-White Jitney 2.8 leather tote bag or Catalina rectangular-frame sunglasses. Other notable names include streetwear brands Amiri and Rare’s very own brand, Rare Mode.
View this post on Instagram
Rare Luxury is a haven for sneaker fanatics, with collections from designers like Dior, Lanvin (ranked one of the most popular sneaker brands in New York) and Rick Owens, a Parisian designer whose fashion is shaped by black and white 1930s Hollywood movies. You can add Lanvin curb sneakers, Amiri skeleton high tops and Dior B22 sneakers to your collection.
Artworks are scattered around the couture store (even using them as models to hold bags). Image: Rare Gallery
INVEST IN BODY ART – GET INKED IN STUDIO
Rare Ink was launched to tap into the rise in popularity of body ink and tattoo artists. The tattoo studio is tucked around the corner from the main gallery, just past the infamous Joker. The enticing “red room” made up of neon lights and skateboards hanging on the wall is decorated with an edgy, punk-rock like mural and has just enough space for one client at a time.
The studio is operational during gallery hours (including First Thursdays). Image: Rare Gallery
So much is packed into this intimate space on Watson Street, which tells such an exciting story about the art and culture of forward thinkers and curators.
The young energy creates an artistic community for both younger generations and art collectors. Image: Rare Gallery
FIND THE HIDDEN GALLERY
Rare Gallery is open: Tue to Fri, 10am - 6pm; Sat + Sun, 11am - 5pm
Find it: 6 Watson Street (around the corner from Pizza Shed), Cape Town City Centre
Price range: R8 000 for small Bearbricks; R22 500 for Fringe prints; R2 000 for couture
Contact Rare Gallery on: 074 784 2986, Instagram: @raregallery_
By Lara van Zyl
DISCOVER MORE ART IN CAPE TOWN
Find out more about Rare Gallery's First Thursday experience.
Drumstruck is back from Broadway and playing for a limited run.
Stroll through these weird unique galleries all across the Cape.
Check out this guide to First Thursdays in Cape Town.
Celebrate your next birthday at one of these 13 special spots.
There’s always something new to discover around every corner.