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REVIEW: The Time Is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure

As we walked into the ground floor galleries of the NPG we knew this show was going to be dazzling! Instantly greeted by a towering 9ft bronze sculpture of a braided beauty clad in gym kit, eyes closed, head held high as if welcoming rays from a gleaming sun - she shines brightly. Created by the brilliant Thomas J Price (a fourth plinth contender) she is inspired.

Curated by writer Ekow Eshun this landmark show is a triumphant celebration of 22 of the most important Black contemporary artists of our time.

The Black figure is depicted throughout the gallery rooms in many different forms. Fragile forgotten historical figures by the ever fabulous Barbara Walker, striking vibrant modern day portraits by Amy Sherald, a boxer who fought his way out of slavery to freedom by Godfried Donkor. Titus Kaphar's cut out collaged paintings reconfiguring western art to include African American subjects are just fantastic and hugely moving.

The under-representation of Black people within Western art history and the historical abuse suffered through slavery and racism is sadly very evident throughout the galleries. However this is a show filled with hope and inspirational artists who are painting and sculpting a new history. A fantastic collection of the best of the best of our time.

Do not miss this one - get yourself along there.

By Julia Colls 22 February 2024

National Portrait Gallery

25 Feb- 19 May

£5 for all under 25s thanks to the Bank of America

Curated by Ekow Eshun (Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group)


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