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What is Contemporary Art

by 21 Jul 2023Education

In its most basic sense, the term contemporary art refers to art, namely, painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance, and video art, produced today.

Contemporary art is the art of today, produced in the second half of the 20th century or in the 21st century. Contemporary artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world. Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts.

Contemporary art is part of a cultural dialogue that concerns larger contextual frameworks such as personal and cultural identity, family, community, natural & urban environment, social justice, pop culture, capitalism and nationality.

Throughout history, art has proved invaluable for its ability to ask questions, engage thinking and make sense of the complexities of the world.

Our Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Art builds on this tradition by integrating contemporary artistic and curatorial practices within established techniques and theory. Through expert mentoring by established artists, writers, curators and researchers, this programme guides students to unlock their own authentic artistic philosophy and practice. This course is intended for individuals who see the world from their own unique perspective, who aren’t afraid to ask questions and who are brave enough to explore beyond the restrictions of established conventions.

The creation of art, regardless of the format, has been a key component in the creation and perpetual evolution of global culture and enrichment of individual meaning making.

With the world increasingly looking towards Africa as a prolific arena for the development of creative expression and innovative practice, the art world is experiencing an explosion of commercial and conceptual opportunities.


• Practicing Artist
• Curator
• Gallerist
• Art Critic
• Journalist
• Art Consultant
• Buyer
• Stylist
• Arts administrator
• Art auctioneer
• Art director
• Art historian
• Custodian
• Registrar
• Production/studio Manager
• Art assistant

#What do our students say

“The Creative Academy provides a safe, supportive and innovative environment. I was allowed to unapologetically be myself and for this I am grateful.” Jason Allen, graduate

“The Contemporary Art course is spectacular in its methods of educating students about all aspects of the art world in an environment that is inclusive, supportive and conscientious.” – Nazeer Jappie, graduate

“The BACA degree is a brilliant course that encourages self-expression, experimentation and critical thinking regardless of your art background/knowledge. I’m always glad I decided to study at CTCA, where I received continuous support and insightful feedback that helped me develop as an artist.”- Tayla van der Spuy, graduate

“The epitome of a liberal arts college” – ANY FKA Justin Fife, graduate

“I found the staff at CTCA to be extremely supportive and invested in their students. I enjoyed my experience and can highly recommend the college to anyone looking for personal growth and a better understanding of the art world.” – an anonymous graduate


Julia Rosa Clark is the coordinator and curriculum developer of the Contemporary Art Degree programme at Creative Academy. She has practiced and exhibited as an artist, designer and curator. Her personal artistic practice critiques contemporary cultural consumption, value and the fallout of late capitalism via explorations of found objects, collage, sculpture and installation. She has worked for many years as a teacher and lecturer in various disciplines, including Painting, Art History & Discourse, Printmaking, Curatorial Practice, Graphic Design, Drawing and general practice on multiple educational levels from primary to masters, and at a number of institutions.
Rowan Smith is a practicing artist and educator. His work takes the form of a multidisciplinary semiotic investigation into the ways in which cultural signs and signifiers can be read as artefacts. He examines how the meaning embedded in these artefacts fluctuates (and frequently deteriorates) in relation to ever-shifting sociopolitical contexts, often assuming a self-critical position which responds to his locality. Most recently, Smith has focussed this lens on the complexities and contradictions of post-apartheid South Africa in terms of class, capitalist economy, nationalism, globalisation and the relationship between the pervasive legacy of the past and the undefined present. He examines these concepts through acts of appropriation, defacement, destruction and reparation. By visualising the destruction of a society in this way, he intends to highlight the flaws embedded in its underlying structures that they may be acknowledged and confronted. Crucially, the physical materiality of the works is as important to his investigation as the concepts informing them; the two work in tandem in order to extrapolate the themes inherent to the artwork.

Chris van Eeden is a “very” practising artist and burgeoning part-time educator. He is fascinated by the abstraction and contortion of human relations inherent in the products, signs and debris of antisocial spectacle capitalism. He applies a multidisciplinary approach to production with a conceptual ethos of “the right tool for the right job”. As an educator his interests are situated around activating students’ awareness and deployment of critical strategies of Consumerism and products as viable artistic methods for inquiry and engagement, often by teaching them how to make art out of found things and junk. And also how to get bang-for-buck. He enjoys long walks in the streets and on the beach and considering the signs and portents of pollution and packaging mixed with nature and sea shells.

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