At the Brookyn Museum, African Masks Take On A Fresh Glow

Brenden Fernandes

From performances during the Stone Age to being co-opted by Picasso and Matisse, African masks have been part of art’s vocabulary for centuries, although today’s iterations have a decidedly fresher face. “Disguise: Masks and Global African Art,” opening Friday at the Brooklyn Museum, offers 25 contemporary African artists’ takes on the medium: a mix of neon signs, video portraits, and multimedia installations, with their centuries-old cowrie-shell counterparts close at hand, too. Get a look inside, here.


Zina Saro-Wiwa (British/Nigerian, born 1976). “The Invisible Man,” 2015.

Courtesy of the artist. © Zina Saro-Wiwa.


Brendan Fernandes (Canadian, born Kenya, 1979). “From Hiz Hands: 1979.206.143,” 2010.

Courtesy of the artist. © Brenden Fernandes.


William Villalongo (American, born 1975). “Muses (Artifact 1), 2012-–14.

Courtesy of the artist and Susan Inglett Gallery, New York. © William Villalongo.


Saya Woolfalk (American, born 1979). Installation/detail view of “ChimaTEK: Virtual Chimeric Space,” at Seattle Art Museum, 2015.

Photo by Nathaniel Willson. © Seattle Art Museum.


Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou (Beninese, born 1965). “Untitled,” Egungun Series, 2011.


Iké Udé (Nigerian, born 1964). “Sartorial Anarchy #23,” 2013.

Courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller Gallery, New York. © Iké Udé.


Jakob Dwight (American, born 1977). Video still of “The Autonomous Prism / MSK02,” 2010-–14.

Courtesy of the artist. © Jakob Dwight


Wura-Natasha Ogunji (American/Nigerian, born 1970). Video still of “An Ancestor Takes a Photograph,” 2014.

Video, filmed in Lagos, Nigeria. Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. © Wura-Natasha Ogunji.