When We See Us

A Century of Black Figuration in Painting


A major new study of Black figurative art from Africa and the African diaspora, covering 100 years from the early 20th century to now


ISBN: 9780500025888 Category:


A Sunday Times Art Book of the Year: a major study of Black figurative art from Africa and the African diaspora, covering 100 years from the early 20th century to now.

Published to accompany a major exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, this book presents a comprehensive exploration of Black self representation through portraiture and figuration, celebrating Black subjectivity and Black consciousness from Pan-African and Pan-Diasporic perspectives.

With a primary focus on representational painting, When We See Us celebrates how artists from Africa and the African diaspora have imagined, positioned, memorialized and asserted African and African diasporic experiences during a 100-year period spanning from the early 20th century to the present. The publication demonstrates how generations of artists throughout the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st have critically engaged with multiple notions of Blackness and Africanity.

Figurative painting by Black artists has risen to a new prominence in the field of contemporary art over the last decade. This timely and revelatory publication and exhibition will highlight the many ways in which artists have contributed 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 mobilisations, Decoloniality and Black Lives Matter.

Additional information

Weight 1842 g
Dimensions 22.1 x 28.9 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 29 December 2022
Number of pages 336
Format Hardback
Contributors Edited by Koyo Kouoh, Text by Tandazani Dhlakama, Ken Bugul, Robin Coste Lewis, Bill Kouélany, and Maaza Mengiste
Dimensions 22.1 x 28.9 cm
Weight 1842 g


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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.