Thandi Sibisi became the first Black woman to own a major art gallery in South Africa when she opened Sibisi Gallery in the Melrose Arch district of Johannesburg at just 25. In the gallery’s first year, Sibisi exhibited artists like painter Nelson Makamo, photographer Justin Dingwall, and painter Esther Mahlangu and attracted the attention of both local and international patrons.
Born to rural farmer parents, Sibisi left home at seventeen and headed to the big city of Johannesburg. While there she started modeling, but quickly realized it wasn’t for her.Which lead to her turn towards entrepreneurship and owning her own businesses. Four to be exact-a charitable foundation, a media company, a successful marketing agency and eventually the gallery.
The gallery, her most recent venture (at least most recent that I’ve heard of) came out of her consulting work with the Department of Arts and Culture where she mingled with art directors and artists. She started traveling in Europe to learn more about art and the art industry when she realized she wanted to set up her own gallery.