Gherdai Hassell’s art is presented in South Africa


Bermudian artist Gherdai Hassell is one of the artists invited to exhibit at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa.

A spokesman said: “Bermudian artist Gherdai Hassell is one of the artists invited to exhibit at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the largest and most ambitious exhibition on the continent to date.

“In the exhibition Hassell will feature one of her paintings, which was first exhibited in Bermuda in 2021 in her first solo show ‘I Am Cause You Are’ at the Bermuda National Gallery.”

Ms Hassell said: I am deeply honored to be showing work alongside the greats. I am thrilled that this work, which pays homage to African history across the Atlantic, has traveled so far to be included in such an important exhibition in art history. This experience was moving, emotional and an absolute dream for me and provides even more context for my work and practice.”

The spokesperson said, “Hassell’s participation in the inaugural events at the Zeitz MOCAA is sponsored in part by the Bermuda Arts Council Artist Grant.

“When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting is an exhibition, publication and discursive program that explores black self-representation and celebrates global black subjectivities and black consciousness from pan-African and pan-diasporic perspectives. It boldly brings together artworks from the past 100 years by Black artists working worldwide to engage in dialogue with leading Black thinkers, writers and poets active today.

“With an emphasis on painting, the exhibition celebrates how artists from Africa and its diaspora have envisioned, positioned, commemorated and asserted African and Afro-descended experiences. It contributes to critical discourse on African and black liberation, intellectual and philosophical movements.

“The title of the exhibition is inspired by Ava DuVernay’s 2019 miniseries When They See Us. Flipping from “they” to “we” allows for a dialectical shift that centers the conversation into a differentiated perspective of self-writing, as theorized by Cameroonian political scientist Professor Achille Mbembe.

“The exhibition, designed by Wolff Architects, features more than 200 artworks from 74 institutional and private lenders from 26 countries. When We See Us celebrates the resilience, essence and political charge of Black Joy. The exhibition is organized around six themes: everyday life, joy and indulgence, calm, sensuality, spirituality, and triumph and emancipation.

“The figurative painting of Black artists has taken on a new meaning in the last decade, and this exhibition connects these practices, revealing deeper historical contexts and networks of a complex and underrepresented genealogy stemming from African and Black modernism. The exhibition illuminates the relationships between artists and artworks across geographic, generational, and conceptual contexts, emphasizing what senior curator Koyo Kouoh calls “parallel aesthetics.”

“The exhibition also includes works by notable artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Zandile Tshabalala, Jacob Lawrence, Chéri Samba, Danielle McKinney, Archibald Motley, Ben Enwonwu, Kingsley Sambo, Sungi Mlengeya, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Cyprien Tokoudagba, Amy Sherald, Mmapula Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi and Joy Labinjo, to name a few, bring these artists and their practice into dialogue for the first time in many cases.

“A poetic hardcover catalog is being published to commemorate the exhibition by Thames & Hudson in association with Zeitz MOCAA and published by Kouoh. Richly illustrated with all the works selected for the exhibition, it includes a contextual essay by the exhibition’s co-curator, Tandazani Dhlakama, and four specially commissioned texts by the acclaimed writer Ken Bugul [Senegal]Maaza Mengiste [Ethiopia]Robin Coste-Lewis [United States] and Bill Kouelany [Republic of Congo].

“The exhibition is accompanied by a sonic translation compiled by South African composer and sound artist Neo Muyanga.

“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 year-long polyphonic webinar series.

“The series brings together thought leaders from the continent and its thriving diaspora to address issues surrounding global black subjectivity and black representation from the premise of artistic production to current thinking relevant today.

“Coordinated by Thato Mogotsi, previous discussion topics have included The Poetics of Black Figuration, Defining the ‘We’ & the ‘Us’, A Century of Black Figuration as Representation of Self, and Black is Beautiful: Pan-Africanism & the Afropolitan Impulse in Contemporary Art, among others Previous participants have included Prof. Huey Copeland, Kimberly Drew, Keyna Eleison, Thelma Golden, Dr. Felwine Sarr and Athi Mongezeleli Joja. The webinars are archived on the museum’s YouTube channel.

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

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