Zak Ové

San Francisco ChronicleCharles Desmarais
The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness
San Francisco Civic Centre
28 June – 7 November 2018


A new, site-specific sculptural installation commands attention at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. A platoon of 40 black graphite-and-resin figures, identical and imposing at more than 6 feet tall, stands in ordered rows before City Hall.

Representations of traditional African sculpture, the figures raise their hands as if to repel evil forces. Some might hope it could ward off the racist vibrations of a much earlier work, the infamous “Early Days” depicting Native American subjugation, directly across the street. Others, understandably in this tortured moment, think, “Hands up. Don’t shoot.”

“Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness,” by British artist Zac Ové, will be formally dedicated on July 19, but it is on view now and will continue through October.

The city’s program of temporary art installations in the Civic Center was begun in 2005. This occasion, shockingly, marks the first time that work by an artist of African descent was selected, according to the city’s director of cultural affairs.