Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, in partnership with the consulate of Italy in Cape Town, unveiled the painting Madonna con bambino benedicente (1629) by Italian baroque painter Guercino. Picture: Zeitz
An exhibition titled Now and Then: Guercino and Kudzanai Chiurai at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) seeks to examine the potential for multiple viewpoints and exchanges by presenting the works of artists of different time periods.

The museum, in partnership with the consulate of Italy in Cape Town, unveiled the painting Madonna con bambino benedicente (1629) by Italian baroque painter Guercino (1591-1666).

It is shown in dialogue with works by Zimbabwean contemporary artist Kudzanai Chiurai (1981) and explores how the past resonates with the present through contrasting mediums, forms and processes.

The exhibition was organised by Gcotyelwa Mashiqa and Julia Kabat at Zeitz MOCAA. Kabat said: “It has been an interesting process to conceptualise the juxtaposition of an almost 400-year-old painting with a contemporary African artwork.”

Madonna con bambino benedicente depicts a benediction of the Madonna and child, and its religious iconography is one that was prevalent during the 18th century.

Similarly, one of Chiurai’s works selected depicts a maternal figure nursing a wounded woman and references Michaelangelo’s sculpture Pietá (1499), which portrays Christ’s lifeless body.

Mashiqa said: “Working on this exhibition has made me consider how the narrative of history is not fixed. The conversation between Guercino and Chiurai is an attempt to fill in the gaps and relook at the dominant nature of this narrative.”

The consul of Italy in Cape Town, Alfonso Tagliaferri, said: “We are proud to showcase a masterpiece of Italian cultural heritage in what is possibly the most important museum space on the African continent.”

The opening of the show coincided with the first Free Wednesday, with free entry for all citizens of African countries from 10am to 1pm as part of the museum’s access for all policy. It will run until September 24. - Staff Writer