Discover what critics have been saying about the Hayward Gallery’s latest exhibition.

Sedrick Chisom, Medusa Wandered the Wetlands of the Capital Citadel Undisturbed By Two Confederate Drifters Preoccupied by Poisonous Vapors That Stirred in the Night Air, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias, London

The Observer: ***** “All of the art is wildly imaginative and ambitious, from American artist Rashaad Newsome’s mesmerising video Build or Destroy, in which a trans CGI figure vogues as the city burns and collapses in the background, to Hew Locke’s post-apocalyptic horsemen riding ever onwards on their steeds, festooned with emblems, who might equally be wise men or tyrants of the future.”

The Guardian: ***** “With its hopeful, fizzing energy, this collection of work by 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora is important because it offers a glimpse of the way ahead. It embodies the message of Afrofuturism, a term first coined in 1993 to describe a movement that seeks to uproot, take apart and reinvent the stagnant cliche of Africa as a continent of misery and oppression, imagining a newly self-defined agency over a future ideal and image that explores the infinite, fantastic possibilities of Black futures.”

Evening Standard: ***** “Each artist is given a discrete space, which makes for a beautiful show, yet doesn’t prevent wonderful correspondence across rooms, as forms, imagery and techniques rhyme and echo. Gold glisters plentifully; floral and oceanic imagery abounds. Collage is a particularly rich strain, from Wangechi Mutu’s marvellous hybrid beings in sculpture, animation, cut paper and paint to Hew Locke’s trinket-festooned imaginary figures – tyrants or liberators? – in equestrian statues and photographs.”

Time Out: **** “There’s plenty of art that I don’t like on display here, but the idea of using sci-fi to imagine a future beyond inequality and beyond racism is powerful, affecting and often very, very beautiful. Not because it’s so wildly fictional, but because all this fantasy is kicking against some very harsh realities.”

The FT: “Black art on the move, creating fresh idioms, is a terrific, timely subject. Eshun’s show is visually stunning, intellectually cohesive, the Hayward’s open spaces and ramps allowing conversations, showcasing overlapping interests.” ***** “A breathtaking opening room features the dazzling work of Chicago artist Nick Cave (not the musician), with dazzling, carnivalesque, tall mannequins called Soundsuits; a wall of joining black hands (Chain Reaction, 2022); and a stunning trippy wallpaper in collaboration with Bob Faust (Wallwork). The room takes you out of the everyday, to an exciting Afrofuture full of hope and joy.”

Culture Whisper: ***** “In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been a welcome move to highlight more black artists in exhibitions but this is the first we’ve seen to focus solely on the fantastic and mythical to draw attention to racial injustice and the Black experience. Combined with a superb line-up of 11 contemporary artists the result is a superb exhibition that’s both needed and memorable.”

The Telegraph: **** “The Hayward Gallery’s new exhibition reveals 11 artists from the African diaspora exploring bleak territory with defiance and brilliance.”

The Independent: **** “The Hayward Gallery’s eagerly awaited exhibition is a fascinating look at an emerging sensibility – even if ‘the fantastic’ is an occasionally elusive concept”

The Times: **** “This show opens with a bang and a shower of spangles. Four figures in sequinned spacesuits and Technicolor dreamcoats form a welcoming committee. The Missouri-born sculptor Nick Cave creates costumes of riotous complexity: pearly king jackets, doily-embellished smocks, crochet, corsages, appliqué patches and shimmering mermaid palettes. One figure has a hooded face like a giant Spirograph scouring pad. I’d love to see Cave costume a ballet. Those sparkling spider webs cry out for stage lights.”

In the Black Fantastic is on display at the Hayward Gallery until the 18th September.


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