Five rooms from the Harry David Art Collection

Temporary Exhibitions Space (Ground Floor)

66 works by 34 artists from the Harry David Art Collection, are presented in five rooms within the EMST Temporary Exhibitions Space (Ground Floor), from 22 September 2020 to 24 October 2021.

Works by representative artists of the contemporary African art, selected from the Harry David Art Collection, are presented in the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens (EMST), in five specially designed rooms, created by the Kallos Turin architectural practice (architects Stephania Kallos and Abby Turin). Five curators, Osei Bonsu (Curator at Tate Modern), Rashid Johnson (Visual Artist), Elvira Dyangani Ose (Director of The Showroom art space), Emily Tsingou (Art Advisor to the Harry David Art Collection), Burkhard Varnholt (Collector, Founder of KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art) each take on a ‘room’, creating different discourses and approaches.

The South African term UBUNTU can be translated as ‘humanness’, ‘humanity towards others’, as a sense of human nature and a spirit of shared humanity. As a starting point for this exhibition, the phrase highlights the notion of a community and a spirit of sharing. At a time when the issue of race and racial discrimination remains as topical as ever – and the art of the developing countries of Africa and its diaspora is increasingly finding international recognition in the multi-cultural context of contemporary art – the exhibition aims to present the public with an overview of contemporary African art and the art of the African diaspora.

The political, historical and cultural polyphony that characterizes post-colonial Africa and expresses the constantly shifting conditions of the African continent lies at the core of the works in the exhibition, and is explored through a variety of themes, concepts and ideas, touching upon slavery and its history, racism and exploitation, segregation and apartheid, war, civil war, famine, cultural imperialism, race and gender, the ecological exploitation of Africa, African rites and rituals, African crafts traditions, representations of the black body, the notion of diaspora and displacement, the socio-political construction of skin colour, the experience of the immigrant, African history and memory, personal narratives and portraiture.

The Harry David Art Collection
The Harry David Art Collection is a post-conceptual collection of contemporary art. Established 20 years ago, it is an extended yet focused collection of a substantial number of works by leading artists active in Africa and the diaspora as well as African American artists.

The ethos of the collection is underpinned by a wish to represent the multiplicity of voices and disciplines that define the cultural, political and historical foundations of post-colonial Africa, and reflect the changing continent today. Some of the  profound concerns that can be seen in the works of the collection include an engagement with: the history of slavery; racist exploitation; racial segregation and apartheid; war; civil war; famine; cultural imperialism; race and gender; the ecological exploitation of Africa; a focus on African rituals and rites traditions; African crafts traditions; the black body and its representation; the diaspora and displacement; the socio-political construct of skin colour; the experience of the immigrant; African history and memory; personal narratives and portraiture.

Artists represented in the collection vary from established and internationally recognized, to young and upcoming practitioners. Artists include Wangechi Mutu, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Ibrahim Mahama, William Kentridge, Abdoulaye Konaté, Romuald Hazoume, Meschac Gaba, Kendell Geers are collected alongside Michael Armitage, Lisa Brice, Lebohang Kganye, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to name a few. The Harry David collection has also amassed a number of African American artists including Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher, Mickalene Thomas, Sanford Biggers, Theaster Gates, Toyin Ojih Odutola.



Curators: Osei Bonsu, Rashid Johnson, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Emily Tsingou, Burkhard Varnholt
Architectural design: Stephania Kallos, Abby Turin (Kallos Turin)


Participating artists
Ifeoma Anyaeji, Lyle Ashton Harris, Κader Attia, Sanford Biggers, Virginia Chihota, Godfried Donkor, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Andrew Esiebo, Mary Evans, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Lauren Halsey, Romuald Hazoumè, Lubaina Himid, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Taiye Idahor, Rashid Johnson, Moshekwa Langa, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Senzeni Marasela, Mohau Modisakeng, Meleko Mokgosi, Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu, Kori Newkirk, Toyin Ojih  Odutola, Chris Ofili, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Tschabalala Self, Yinka Shonibare, Shinique Smith, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye