Offcanvas

ArticleBlade

Edit Template

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

In Cape Town, South Africa, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) proudly shines as a symbol of artistic expression and cultural jubilation. Step inside and witness the transformative exhibition ‘When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting,’ where an extraordinary tapestry of black artistic brilliance weaves together the rich cultural legacy of the 20th century to the present day. In this article, we delve into a transformative exhibition that takes us on an incredible journey, unveiling the rich tapestry of the black experience through captivating themes and impactful artworks.

Exploring the Thematic Sections

‘When We See Us’ goes beyond being a simple exhibition; it stands as a magnificent tribute to the opulence and grandeur of black art and culture. Over 100 black artists worldwide come together in this extraordinary event, displaying their incredible talent and collective brilliance. Explore the fascinating history and evolution of black figuration in painting through this unique showcase at Zeitz MOCAA. It is organized into six thematic sections: ‘The Everyday,’ ‘Joy and Revelry,’ ‘Repose,’ ‘Sensuality,’ ‘Spirituality,’ and ‘Triumph and Emancipation.’ Each section offers a unique lens to view the rich tapestry of the black experience.

The Everyday: Celebrating Life’s Moments

‘The Everyday’ section invites viewers to revel in the ordinary yet extraordinary moments of black life. From family gatherings to neighborhood scenes, these artworks capture the essence of joy and connection that transcends time and place.

Furthermore, the ‘Everyday’ section serves as a poignant reminder of the profound experiences and vibrant cultural expressions that fill our daily lives. It celebrates the beauty of everyday moments and the strength of community bonds. By immersing themselves in these artworks, viewers are offered an extraordinary chance to establish a deep connection with the universal components of human existence. Furthermore, they can also develop a renewed admiration for the fascinating array of cultural perspectives and narratives that shape the black experience. It’s a testament to the resilience, love, and shared humanity that unites us all, regardless of our backgrounds.

Joy and Revelry: Dancing to the Rhythm of Life

‘Joy and Revelry’ immerses us in the vibrant world of celebration. Whether it’s a dance, a festival, or a casual gathering, these artworks resonate with the emotional energy and passionate enthusiasm that encapsulate moments of shared bliss.

In ‘Joy and Revelry,’ art becomes a joyful expression of the human spirit. These artworks invite us to join the festivities and embrace the universal joy that transcends cultural boundaries. These images not only capture the essence of celebration but also serve as a powerful reminder of the sheer joy that springs forth from the fluidity of dance or the contagious laughter exchanged among dear friends. They portray the beauty and magic of these simple pleasures that unite us and infuse our lives with true happiness. The visual manifestation of the power of unity, music, and laughter is truly awe-inspiring. It serves as a reminder for us to cherish the exquisite wonder of life in all its remarkable manifestations.

Repose: Moments of Reflection and Contemplation

‘Repose’ offers a quieter, more introspective view of the black experience. The artworks beckon us to engage in deep contemplation, compelling us to delve into the inner realms of their subjects. They eloquently accentuate the profound influence of tranquility and introspection.

In ‘Repose,’ we find a sanctuary of serenity and reflection. These artworks create an oasis during life’s chaos, urging us to immerse ourselves in the thoughts and emotions conveyed by their subjects. These images are a powerful reminder of the significance of introspection and self-discovery, whether experienced in moments of solitude or shared in serene stillness. They encourage us to take a breath, find solace in stillness, and appreciate the depth of our inner worlds. Embark on a mesmerizing expedition that urges us to embrace moments of tranquility, acknowledging the exquisite allure and profound wisdom discovered within the soft murmur of introspection.

Sensuality: The Language of Desire and Connection

‘Sensuality’ explores the realm of desire and intimacy. These artworks speak to the sensual and emotional connections that bind individuals and communities together. In ‘Sensuality,’ art becomes a language of desire and connection. These images exalt the exquisite nature of the human connection, gently prompting us to reflect upon the deep-seated ties that bind us together during instances of ardent desire and affection. 

These artworks beautifully portray the intimate bonds shared between lovers and friends, capturing the very essence of sensuality. They beckon us to embrace our humanity and revel in the warmth and vulnerability that accompany such profound connections. They remind us that love and desire are universal experiences that transcend boundaries and remind us of our shared humanity. This visual representation serves as undeniable evidence of the extraordinary potential of sensuality to establish profound bonds and enhance our lives with truly moving experiences of emotional intimacy and connection.

Spirituality: Nurturing the Soul

‘Spirituality’ delves into the spiritual dimension of black life. These artworks provide fleeting glimpses into the realm of the sacred and transcendental, compelling viewers to forge a deep connection with the sublime aspects of human existence. 

In ‘Spirituality,’ art becomes a doorway to the divine and the mystical. These captivating images beckon us to embark on a profound spiritual odyssey alongside their subjects, igniting a deep introspection within ourselves and fostering a profound bond with the divine. These artworks have the power to capture the profound essence of spiritual depth, reminding us of how faith and transcendence greatly enhance our lives through moments of prayer and soulful reflection. They motivate us to pursue moments of spiritual enlightenment during our journeys, acknowledging the splendor and importance of our unique and shared spiritual paths. It represents a visually captivating journey searching for purpose, a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of our souls and the shared spiritual fabric that binds us as human beings.

Triumph and Emancipation: Breaking Chains and Soaring High

‘Triumph and Emancipation’ celebrates resilience and freedom. The artworks bear witness to the trials and victories experienced by the Black diaspora, serving as a powerful reminder of the unyielding spirit that prevails during challenges.

Highlighted Works

In this exhibition, several works stand out as powerful expressions of the black experience:

  • Jacob Lawrence, Migration of the Negro Panel 12 (1940–41): Part of Lawrence’s Migration Series, this painting tells the story of African Americans’ Great Migration from the South to the North. It speaks to the determination and courage of black Americans in the face of adversity.
  • Romare Bearden, The Block (1953): Bearden’s collage depicts the vibrant street life of Harlem, capturing the diversity and vitality of the community. His use of collage materials adds immediacy and authenticity to the artwork.
  • Faith Ringgold, American People Series #20: Die (1967): A robust response to the social and political upheavals of the 1960s, Ringgold’s painting condemns racism and violence in America.
  • Elizabeth Catlett, Homage to My Grandmother (1944): This portrait celebrates the strength and dignity of black women, embodied by Catlett’s grandmother.

‘When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting’ transcends the boundaries of a mere exhibition, serving as a powerful homage to the captivating tapestry of black art and culture. It invites us to explore the multifaceted dimensions of the black experience through the eyes and brushes of black artists. When you visit Zeitz MOCAA or dive into this article, you are commencing a vibrant journey celebrating resilience, joy, reflection, and triumph. It is an exploration into the very essence of black artistry.

David Roberts

Writer & Blogger

Related Posts:

  • All Post
  • Art
  • Crafts and DIY
  • Decor
  • Film
  • Music
  • World News
    •   Back
    • News
    • Events
    • Album Reviews
    •   Back
    • Contemporary Art
    • Art History
    • Photography
    • Exhibitions
    • Artists
    •   Back
    • News
    • Events
    • Movie Reviews
    • Watchlist
    •   Back
    • Interior Design
    • Exterior Design
    • Home Tours

Most Popular

  • All Post
  • Art
  • Crafts and DIY
  • Decor
  • Film
  • Music
  • World News
    •   Back
    • News
    • Events
    • Album Reviews
    •   Back
    • Contemporary Art
    • Art History
    • Photography
    • Exhibitions
    • Artists
    •   Back
    • News
    • Events
    • Movie Reviews
    • Watchlist
    •   Back
    • Interior Design
    • Exterior Design
    • Home Tours
Edit Template
Scroll to Top