In this project Kiluanji Kia Henda (born in Luanda, 1979), is committed to challenging the false claims created by the ideology related to the birth of European nations and racial politics in relation to black people, the “Moors”, which have massively imposed the European colonial model, spreading it all over the world, thus also helping to create a hybridization of aesthetics. These observations are the background against which the works created by Kia Henda during his stay in Venice and Lisbon should be viewed.

In The Great Italian Nude, for example, the artist looks on traditional painting and the representation of the other, proposing the idea of the black male nude, which in the history of Westernart has hardly ever been represented. Depicted in a classical pose, Kia Henda’s subject immediately calls to mind Edouard Manet’s famous Olympia. When it was exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1865, critics universally denounced its unashamed immorality -for the first time a painter had dared to show the nude figure of a prostitute at work.

Besides being ironically provocative, Henda’s work elicits from the viewer a reflection on art as a historical document.Among the various works, the exhibition will also feature the photo portrait The Merchant of Venice, which pays homage to William Shakespeare’s play set in late sixteenth century Venice. The male figure photographed in the interior of the Istituto Veneto per le Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, is a Senegalese musician, who, like so many other immigrants, is forced to accept whatever job comes his way just to survive, even at the cost of the proverbial “ pound of flesh”. But the link with the Shakespearean play is even more evident in the installation of threecaskets where the artist invites the viewer to be reflected in three mirrors holding the riddles.Inspired also on the book Othello, The Moor of Venice of William Shakespeare, the series of five photos Othellos Fate is part of the on-going project Self-Portrait As a White Man. In this series, Kia Henda intends to create a parallel between this fictitious tragedy, and the growing tension of the African presence in Europe at the present.


Focusing on some of the crucial aspects of this tragedy, Kia Henda dives into a classic scenario of an old palace in Lisbon, to address issues like love and racism, and its ability to trigger violent conflicts, perceiving that as an unconditional stigma in the human s fate.As the historian of art Susana Martins described: …in Self-Portrait As a Whiteman, a work developed in Venice, Kia Henda revisited canons from the western art in order to challenge its hierarchies and question the full reach and extent of the phenomena of emigration and the African diaspora in Europe.

In his multifaceted work, it is always through fiction and through the careful staging of photographs that he reminds us the concept of historical truth is something as artificial as it is unstable.