When We See Us A Century of Black Figuration in Painting

Koyo Kouoh

This landmark publication accompanies an international touring exhibition devoted to Black figuration in painting from the 1920s to now, featuring artists from Africa and the African diaspora.

Published to accompany a major exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, CapeTown, When We See Us presents a comprehensive exploration of Black representation through portraiture and figuration, celebrating Black subjectivity and Black consciousness from Pan-African and Pan-Diasporic perspectives.

In the past decade, figurative painting by Black artists has risento a new prominence in the field of contemporary art. This timely and revelatory book highlights the many ways in which artists critically engage with notions of blackness, contributing to the critical discourse on topics such as Pan-Africanism, the Civil Rights Movement, African Liberation and Independence movements, the Anti-Apartheid and Black Consciousness mobilizations, Decoloniality, and Black Lives Matter.

With a primary focus on figurative painting, When We See Us explores how Black artists have imagined, positioned, memorialized, and asserted African and African diasporic experiences from the early 20th century to the present day. Featuring more than 200 works of art—and contributions from well-known writers such as Ken Bugul, Maaza Mengiste, Robin Coste Lewis, and Bill Kouelany—When We See Us is a major contribution to our understanding of Black art that will appeal to anyone interested in modern and contemporary figurative art and Black cultural history.

Contributors

Koyo Kouoh

Author

Koyo Kouoh is Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), Cape Town. In 2015 The New York Times called her one of Africa's pre-eminent art curators and managers. In 2020 she was awarded the Swiss Grand Award for Art/Prix Meret Oppenheim in recognition of her contribution to the understanding of contemporary art.