ANA Spotlight

René Tavares’ Debut Solo Exhibition At the Africa Centre, UK

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The Africa Centre, UK, in partnership with This Is Not a White Cube Gallery, enthusiastically presents René Tavares’ debut solo exhibition, “Portraits for English to See.” Premiered at The Africa Centre on October 9th, this groundbreaking exhibition offers a unique perspective on the African diaspora and the intricate nuances of miscegenation.

Curated by Paula Nascimento, Tavares’ work, displayed in seven awe-inspiring pieces, is a testament to his creative prowess. Entitled “Portraits for English to See” and “Cotton People Reloaded,” these paintings result from an intricate production and research process. Moreover, it seamlessly blends archival photography and painting techniques. The exhibition derives its title from the historical Portuguese phrase “para inglês ver” (for English to see). The artist cleverly encapsulates this meaning to explore deep-rooted historical and socio-political themes.

GRAND MA’S TREASURES, 2023-Oil, pigment, charcoal, acrylic and gold paper on raw cloth-150 x 150 cm.

René Tavares is a pioneer in the Santomean art scene, gaining international recognition for his thought-provoking work. His paintings are characterized by skillful manipulation of paints and pigments. With this, he depicts landscapes adorned with cotton fields and earthy textures. These intricate layers and miscegenation concepts create a visual narrative that transcends boundaries and resonates with diverse audiences.

Audiences are confronted with the artist’s profound inquiries into assimilated, neglected, and forgotten heritages. The paintings challenge established norms, inviting viewers to question rigid categories and prejudices. Through his art, Tavares sparks a dialogue that promotes resilience, social empowerment, and a heightened awareness of our shared history.

MAKING MEMORIES IN FRONT OF MEMORIES, 2023. Oil, pigment, charcoal, acrylic, and gold paper on canvas. 198 x 210 cm.

As part of the exhibition, the Africa Centre will host an enlightening artist talk titled “Unfinished Histories.” This event presents a unique opportunity for art enthusiasts to delve into the core elements of Tavares’ practice. The curator will join the conversation, offering valuable insights, and serve as the moderator, enriching the discussion with his expertise.

“Portraits for English to see” is a must-see event in London, inviting viewers to engage with their heritage, identity, and societal transformation. This exhibition stands as a testament to the power of art in provoking meaningful discourse and fostering a deeper understanding of our shared human experience. Be sure to check out René Tavares’s wondrous works, which are available at The Africa Centre, UK, and This is not a white cube gallery’s website.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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