Anonymous head of a Moor by Mawande Zenzile.
Pictured above is both the diagram and Zenzile’s artwork.
“The work references a 1528 diagram, by the artist Albrecht Dürer, who wrote a book on human proportions. He invented this formula to help one drawing a head of an African. How odd!
With my painting, I hoped that the viewer would reimage the head of a “Moor”. I left it to the viewer to imagine and wonder. At the same time, I wanted to challenge the stereotypical formula or apparatus for rendering an “African’s head”. In this way I’m hoping to subvert the stereotype.
In this work I look into how blackness is represented in western art making and how that shapes the way we view black subjects. To my dismay, I discovered that there is a particular or rather peculiar way that black people in general were depicted in European paintings and popular culture. This work references a diagram invented by the artist Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), an artist and theorist from Northern Renaissance… who later wrote a book on human proportions.
I was hoping that the reader would reimage the head of a ‘Moor’, meaning that, to leave it to the viewer to imagine and to wonder. At the same time to challenge the stereotypical formula or apparatus of an ‘African’s head’, in this way I’m hoping to subvert the stereotype created by Dürer.