The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.

Hank Willis Thomas is a photo conceptual artist whose work is part of numerous public collections including The Museum of Modern Art New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The High Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. He is represented by the by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and Goodman Gallery in South Africa. He talks about his new show Young, Gifted and Black now on at the Goodman Gallery.

Why did you decide to become an artist?

Neither of my parents were ever very good at doing what society told them to do. They followed their own paths and I followed them.

Zero Hour, 2013

Which African artists are you most excited by at the moment?

I’m always most excited to find out what and who I don’t know. I am a perennial fan of Wangechi Mutu, Mikhael Subotzky, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Mary Sibande and Hassan Hajjaj. I am excited about artists like Omar Victor Diop and Gerald Machona.

I am excited to have curated this amazing exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. It’s called To be Young, Gifted, and Black and features artists from nine different countries, mostly in Africa.

Raise Up, 2014

Who is your African of the year, and why?

Fadzai Gwaradzimba, the Zimbabwean Assistant Secretary-General for Safety and Security. For her independence, integrity, intelligence, grace, fearlessness and duty.

Find out more about To be Young, Gifted, and Black


It's The Real Thing, 2006

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