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Tschabalala Self

American  •  b. 1990

Biography

Harlem-born artist Tschabalala Self combines sewing, printing and painting in a singular style that speaks to her experience of contemporary black womanhood. Despite her extensive use of craft methods, Self considers herself to be a painter above all else. Her work is known for exaggerated colors and forms, allowing the personages within to “escape” from society’s narrow perceptions.

Explaining her practice, the artist stated: “I hope to correct misconceptions propagated within and projected upon the Black body. Multiplicity and possibility are essential to my practice and general philosophy. My subjects are fully aware of their conspicuousness and are unmoved by the viewer. Their role is not to show, explain, or perform but rather ‘to be.’ In being, their presence is acknowledged and their significance felt. My project is committed to this exchange, for my own edification and for the edification of those who resemble me.”

Insights

  • Phillips introduced Tschabalala Self to auction in our 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, London, March 2019, selling Lilith for £125,000 against a low estimate of £40,000.

  • Self has held residencies at the American Academy in Rome, the Red Bull House of Art in Detroit and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among other institutions.

  • Self’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Pérez Art Museum, Miami.

“My work does not comment on stereotypes and generalizations about the black female body, my practice absorbs these fantasies. The work is celebratory because one must thrive despite destructive rhetoric."

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