When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting

Cape Town, South Africa

November 20, 2022 - September 03, 2023 Exhibition November 20, 2022 September 03, 2023 Europe/London When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting Zeitz MOCAA | Silo District, S Arm Road, V&A Waterfront, 8002: Cape Town, South Africa

Press Release

Zeitz MOCAA presents an exhibition that explores Black self-representation through portraiture and figuration in painting. Titled When We See Us, this timely exhibition celebrates global Black subjectivities and Black consciousness from pan-African and pan-diasporic perspectives.

With a focus on painting, specifically works produced from the 1920s to the present, When We See Us celebrates how artists from Africa and its diaspora have imagined, positioned, memorialised and asserted African and African-descent experiences. The title of the exhibition is inspired by Ava Dubernay’s When They See Us, a 2019 US drama mini-series. It depicts various forms of violence against Black bodies as still witnessed globally today.

When We See Us is the largest exhibition of this scope to be held on the African continent. It will feature more than 200 works of art from the past 100 years. The exhibition is about affirming agency and self-determination across the Black world. As such, central to the exhibition is the resilience, essence and political charge of Black joy and the Black quotidian.

The exhibition brings to the fore how multiple generations of Black artists have revelled and critically engaged in projecting various notions of Blackness and Africanicity that are self-reflective and that challenge the gaze imposed on Black cultures.

When We See Us highlights the artistic lineages, art schools and movements from the Nsukka School in Nigeria, Ecole de Dakar in Senegal, the Kumasi School in Ghana and the British Black Arts Movement to the Department of Fine Arts at Makerere University in Uganda and the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in South Africa, to name a few. The exhibition will feature works by artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Zandile Tshabalala, Jacob Lawrence, Cheri Samba, Danielle McKinney, Joy Labinio and Archibald Motley, amongst many others.

Zeitz MOCAA’s curatorial and exhibition programming is proudly supported by Gucci.

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