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Gherdai Hassell’s art exhibited in South Africa


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

A spokesperson 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 held on the continent to date.

“In the exhibition, Hassell will display one of his paintings that was first exhibited in Bermuda in his first solo show ‘I Am because You Are’ at the National Gallery of Bermuda in 2021.”

Ms Hassell said: I am deeply honored to show work alongside the greats. I am delighted that this work, which pays homage to African history across the Atlantic, has traveled far and wide to be included in such an important exhibition in the history of art. This experience has been 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 opening events at Zeitz MOCAA is sponsored in part by the Bermuda Arts Council’s artist grant.

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

“With a focus on painting, the exhibition celebrates how artists from Africa and its diaspora have imagined, positioned, remembered 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 Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, the 2019 miniseries. Moving from ‘them’ to ‘us’ allows for a dialectical shift that focuses the conversation on a differential perspective of self-writing according to political scientist theory. Cameroonian, Professor Achille Mbembe.

“The exhibition, designed by Wolff Architects, features more than 200 works of art from 74 institutional and private lenders located in 26 countries. When We See Us celebrates the resilience, essence, and political charge of black joy. The exhibition is organized around six themes: The everyday, Joy and revelry, Rest, Sensuality, Spirituality and Triumph and emancipation.

“Representative painting by Black artists has risen to new prominence in the past decade and this exhibition connects these practices, revealing deeper historical contexts and networks of complex and underrepresented genealogy, stemming from African and Black modernities. The exhibition highlights the relationships between artists and works of art across geographical, generational and conceptual contexts, and highlights what lead 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, and in many cases bring these artists and their practice into dialogue for the first time.

“Published to coincide with the exhibition is a hardcover poetic catalog from Thames & Hudson in collaboration with Zeitz MOCAA and edited by Kouoh. Richly illustrated with all the works selected for the exhibition, it includes a contextual essay by exhibition co-curator Tandazani Dhlakama and four specially commissioned texts by acclaimed writers 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.

“Conceived in collaboration with the Institute for the 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 series of multi-voice webinars.

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

“Coordinated by Thato Mogotsi, previous discussion topics included The Poetics of Black Figuration, Defining ‘We’ and ‘We,’ A Century of Black Figuration as Representation of the Self, and Black Is Beautiful: Pan-Africanism and the Afropolitan Impulse in contemporary culture. Art, among others. Past 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 the presenting sponsor, Gucci.”

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