The investigative exhibition features nearly 200 works by 154 artists

The exhibition, supported by Gucci, opens on November 20, 2022

This weekend, Zeitz MOCAA will be a flurry of activity as it not only showcases its fundraising gala, sponsored by Gucci, but also unveils a new investigative exhibit that has taken years to prepare. Title When We See Each Other: A Century of Black Figuration in Paintingthe exhibition focuses on painting, more specifically on works produced from the 1920s to the present day.

“Over the past decade, figurative painting by black artists has taken on new prominence in contemporary art,” says Koyo Kouoh, General Manager and Chief Curator at Zeitz MOCAA. “There is no better time for an exhibition of this nature, which connects these practices and reveals the deeper historical contexts and networks of complex and underrepresented artistic genealogies that stem from African and black modernities; an exhibition that shows how several generations of these artists have reveled in and critically engaged in projecting various notions of blackness and Africanness.

When We See Each Other: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting includes an exhibition, publication and discursive programming that explores black self-representation and celebrates global black subjectivities and black consciousness from a pan-African and pan-diasporic perspective. It boldly brings together works of art from the past 100 years, from black artists working around the world, in dialogue with the leading black thinkers, writers and poets active today.

The exhibition further celebrates how artists from Africa and its diaspora have imagined, positioned, commemorated and affirmed African and Afro-descendant experiences. He contributes to critical discourse on African and black liberation, intellectual and philosophical movements. The title of the exhibition is inspired by that of Ava DuVernay When they see usa 2019 mini-series. Flipping “they” into “we” allows for a dialectical shift that centers the conversation in a differential perspective of self-writing as theorized by Professor Achille Mbembe.

The exhibition, curated by Wolff ArchitectsFeatures nearly 200 works of art by 154 artists from 28 countrieswith the works lent by 73 institutional and private lenders situated in 26 countries. When we are seen celebrates the resilience, essence and political charge of black joy. The exhibition is organized around six themes — Everyday life, Joy and rejoicing, Rest, Sensuality, Spiritualityand triumph and emancipation. It is also accompanied by an audio translation, compiled by South African composer and sound artist Neo Muyanga.

Tandazani Dhlakama, co-curator and assistant curator of the exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, says, “This exhibition is a true reflection of the historical contexts of African and black existence, with the oldest artist in the exhibition born in 1886 and the youngest in 1999. It amplifies a historical continuum of self-representation while highlighting important contributions to a previously underrated canon. More importantly, it explores a wide range of artistic lineages, art schools and movements – and brings together for the first time a myriad of artists and their practice in dialogue (see the full list of artists below).”

Published to coincide with the exhibition is a poetic hardcover catalog by Thames and Hudson, in collaboration with Zeitz MOCAA, and edited by Koyo Kouoh. Richly illustrated with all the works selected for the exhibition, it includes a contextual essay by Dhlakama and four specially commissioned texts by acclaimed writers Ken Bugul (Senegal), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia), Robin Coste Lewis (USA) and Bill Kouelany (Republic of the Congo). In addition to the publication, on sale from November 18 at the Zeitz MOCAA Shop and shop.zeitzmocaa.museum, the curatorial team collaborated with the museum’s retail partner on a limited range of exhibit-related items, including t-shirts, tote bags and more.

Designed in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), a parallel discursive program provides theoretical frameworks for the project and is presented as a series of multi-vocal webinars with a duration of one year. The series brings together thought leaders from across the continent and its thriving diaspora to address topics around global black subjectivity and black representation from the premises of artistic production and into topical considerations relevant today.

Coordinated by Zeitz MOCAA Deputy Curator Thato Mogotsi, previous discussion topics included The poetics of black figuration, Defining “we” and “we”, A century of black figuration as self-representation and Black is Beautiful: Pan-Africanism and the Afropolitan Impulse in Contemporary Art, among others. Previous participants have included Professor Huey Copeland, Kimberly Drew, Keyna Eleison, Thelma Golden, Dr Felwine Sarr and Athi Mongozeleli Joja. The webinars are archived on the museum’s YouTube channel, with the next taking place on Tuesday, November 29.

The opening of the exhibition is preceded by the Zeitz MOCAA 2022 Gala Dinner + Party, supported by Gucci, acting as a catalyst and source of inspiration for the gala theme, Art & Opulence. The Gala is Zeitz MOCAA’s largest development event of the year and its proceeds bring in approximately 30% of the museum’s annual exhibits and education budget. The event is central to the institution’s mission to promote arts education and community engagement, and is further supported by the V&A Waterfront, the Radisson Hotel Group, the Courier and Custodian, YourLuxury AfricaTerre Paisable, Pernod Ricard and Hidden Valley Wines, with BMW South Africa as official automotive partner.

The exhibition and accompanying publication have been made possible through the generous support of our presenting sponsor, Gucci.

When We See Each Other: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting will be open to the public on Sunday November 20, 2022. The Zeitz MOCAA Gala Dinner + Party, supported by Gucci and themed Art + Opulence, will take place on Saturday November 19, 2022. For more information on the gala and to purchase tickets tickets, go to zeitzmocaa.museum or click here.

Zeitz MOCAA curatorial and exhibition programming is proudly supported by Gucci. All proceeds from the annual fundraising event go to support curatorial research and educational programming at Zeitz MOCAA.

Participating artists:

Nina Chanel Abney

Olusegun Adejumo

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Alexander Maxwell

Tiffany Alfonseca

benny andrews

Anjel (Boris Anje)

Cornelius Annor

Gideon Appah

Michael Armitage

Johnny Arts

Malang Badji

Firelei Baez

Romare Bearden

Tizta Berhanu

Willie Bester

Gerard Bhengu

Wilson Bigaud

John Thomas Biggers

Amoako Boafo

Kwesi Botchway

Marcus Brutus

Margaret Taylor Burroughs

Dominic Rooms

Cheri Cherin

Kudzanai Chiurai

Pierre Clarke

Eldzier Cortor

Somaya Critchlow

Beauford Delaney

Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux

Aboubacar Diane

Aaron Douglas

Gervais Emmanuel Ducasse

Edouard Duval-Carrie

Ibrahim El Salahi

Ben Enwonwu

Esiri Erheriene-Essi

Patrick Eugene

Scherezade Garcia

Ablade Glover

Gherdai Hassell

Barkley L.Hendricks

Lubaina Himide

Albert Huie

Clementine Huntress

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami

Gavin Jantjes

William H. Johnson

Charles Kamangwana


Ibrahima Kebe

Amon Kotei

Joy Labinjo

Wifredo Lam

YoYo lander

Akinola Lasekan

Jacob Lawrence

Petson Lombe

Along the Sahara

Zemba Luzamba

Danielle McKinney

Mustafa Maluka

Marvelous Mangana

Armando Marino

Arjan Martins

No Martin

Wangari Mathenge

Neo Matloga

Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne

Georges Mbugua

Kivuthi Mbuno

Zacharie Mbutha

Luis Meque

Romeo Mivekannin

Sungi Mlengeya

Sphephelo Mnguni


Meleko Mokgossi

Archibald J. Motley Jr.

Richard Mudariki

Geoffrey Mukasa

Cinthia Sifa Mulanga

Therese Mungure

Lavar Munroe

Ian Mwesiga

Cassi Namoda

Eric Ndlovu

Chemu Ng’ok

MalangatanaValente Ngwenya

Nicholous Njau

Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi

Eria Nsubuga ‘Sane’

Nestor Vuza Ntoko

Boris Nzebo

Antonio Oba

Antoine Obin

Philome Obin

Telemachus Obin

Abe Odedina

Toyin Ojih Odutola

Fred Oduya

Chris Ofili

Augustin Okoye

Kambui Olujimi

Eniwaye Oluwaseyi

Bruce Onobrakpeya

Richard Onyango

Marc Padeu

Zeh Palito

Emma Pa’

Karl Parboosingh

George Pemba

Thebe Phetogo

Naudline Pierre

Prosper Pierre Louis

Horace Pepin

Maria Magdalena Campos Pons

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe

Robert Saidi

Cheri Samba

Kingsley Sambo

Cinga Samson

Mmapula Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi

Gerard Sekoto

Tschabalala Self

Amy Sherald

Devan Shimoyama

Monsengo Shula

Alexander Shyngle

Sthembiso Sibisi

old self

Olivier Suffering

Moustapha Souley

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Nirit Takele

Matundu Tanda

Henry Taylor

Alfred Thoba

Mickalene Thomas

Bob Thompson

Edward Saidi Tingatinga

Katlego Tlabela

Cyprien Tokoudagba

Mose Tolliver

Zandile Tshabalala

Didier Viode

Sane Wadu

Charles White

Kehinde Wiley

Richard Witikani

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Daniela Yohannes

Published by Chimera Creative on behalf of Zeitz MOCAA.

Please find other media materials for When we are seen here and here.

About Zeitz MOCAA

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a non-profit public institution that collects, preserves, researches and exhibits contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora; designs and hosts international exhibitions; develops pedagogical, discursive and accompanying enrichment programs; encourages cross-cultural understanding; and aims for access for all. The galleries of the museum offer rotating temporary exhibitions with a space dedicated to the permanent collection. The institution also includes the Center for Art Education, the Center for the Moving Image and The Atelier, a museum residency program for artists living and working in Cape Town.

Zeitz MOCAA is located in Silo District, South Arm Road, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. zeitzmocaa.museum

About Gucci

Founded in Florence, Italy in 1921, Gucci is one of the world’s leading luxury brands, led by President and CEO Marco Bizzarri and Creative Director Alessandro Michele. After the House’s centenary, Gucci enters the next hundred years, continuing to redefine luxury while celebrating creativity, craftsmanship and innovation at the heart of its values.

Gucci is part of the global luxury group Kering, which manages the development of a series of renowned Maisons in fashion, leather goods, jewelery and watches.

Find out more about Gucci at gucci.com.

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