By Taylor Mayad
The highly anticipated exhibition, If You Look Hard Enough, You Can See Our Future, made its worldwide debut at the African American Museum, Dallas in historic Fair Park. Made possible by the beloved restaurant group Nando’s, one of the largest collectors of contemporary Southern African art in the world, the exhibition features nearly 90 pieces from more than 60 emerging, mid-career and established artists.
Free and open to the public, the exhibition runs through Aug. 13.
Some of the most notable Southern African-based artists will have work on display, including Zanele Muholi, Kudzanai Chiurai, Claudette Schreuders, Patrick Kagiso, Igshaan Adams, Stephen Hobbs, Anastasia Pather, Penny Siopis, William Kentridge, Portia Zvavahera and Samson Mnisi. The selection of work is drawn from the collection’s strength in portraiture, landscape, cityscapes and abstraction.
“This exhibition is about the unity of contemporary Southern African artwork. And the collective experience at our museum is an immersion into both Southern African and African American artwork,” said Dr. Harry Robinson, Jr., president and CEO of the African American Museum, Dallas. “We are honored to be selected for Nando’s debut of an exhibition that embodies this shared community, and culture.”
Curating an exhibition from a collection built over two decades and assembling pieces never seen together was an idea that came to life from the late philanthropist and businessman, Dick Enthoven, who tapped Laurie Ann Farrell to be the curator. One of the most important curators working to expose artists from Africa and the African Diaspora to the United States; Farrell served as a curator at The African Center (formerly known as The Museum of African Art) in New York City, an executive director at Savannah College of Art & Design, curator and head of modern and contemporary art at the Detroit Institute of Art, and briefly as senior curator at the Dallas Contemporary.
“To exhibit exemplary pieces from the Nando’s art collection that have never been seen together before introduces a broad range of South African talent to the United States,” said Farrell. “Attendees will be immersed in the collections’ distinct aesthetics, while also engaging with universal themes of humanity, love, loss and hope for a better future.”
The start of the exhibition takes place during the 10th iteration of Dallas Arts Month when community leaders celebrate the city’s emergence as a capital of culture. The debut of the exhibition is also listed as an “official” must-see for the international set of collectors, professionals and tourists that attend the Dallas Arts Fair in the third week of April every year.
“As a proudly African brand coming to Dallas, we consider the African American Museum, to be the perfect canvas on which to share world-class expressions of the modern Southern African lived experience,” said Sepanta Bagherpour, chief brand officer of Nando’s North America.
Home to the legendary South-African flamed-grilled PERi-PERi chicken and PERi-PERi sauces, the first Nando’s locations arrive in Texas this summer, with two locations opening in Houston and one in Dallas.
Also, a “Freedom Day Panel” will be held Wednesday (April 26) at 6 p.m. April 26 marks the day that South Africans commemorated the first post-Apartheid democratic election that took place in 1994. The panel will explore the role of art in the expression and preservation of culture, social cohesion and democracy.
The African American Museum, Dallas is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free self-parking is available in nearby lots. For more information, go to aamdallas.org or call 214-565-9026.