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Looking for South Africa, But Seeing Nando’s

In keeping with its brand identity as a champion of all things South African, Nando’s has developed one of the largest collections of South African art. To coincide with its impending opening of a Nando’s restaurant in the Dallas area, the company has staged an exhibition of some of its works at the African American Museum there. While Nando’s already has locations on the East Coast and in Illinois, the Houston and Addison outposts mark the chain’s first expansion into the Texas market. In many ways, it feels like the exhibition is more about Nando’s than the art itself. The show is comprised primarily of two-dimensional work made between 1948 and 2020, divided into two crowded and colorful galleries organized around themes of portraiture, place, and abstraction. According to a press release, the goal of the exhibition is to convey “the unity of Southern African art” through the “[collection’s] distinct aesthetics, while also engaging with universal themes of humanity, love, loss and hope for a better future.”