Tschabalala Self - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Video

    'Lilith' | Tschabalala Self

    A striking work from the artist's young corpus, 'Lilith' marks Tschabalala Self's auction debut. Specialist Kate Bryan delves into Self's reinvention of figurative painting birthed from an objective to create works that challenge voyeuristic practices directed at the female body.

  • Provenance

    Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, The Cabin, Tropicana, 30 August - 27 September 2015

  • Literature

    'Self Shape - Tschabalala Self', The Art Assignment, PBS Digital Studios, 13 October 2016, video, online (illustrated)
    Tschabalala Self, exh. cat., Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London, 2017, p. 52 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Comprising sculptures, monoprints and paintings made of sewn, printed and painted materials, Tschabalala Self’s artistic practice explores the iconographic importance of the black female body in contemporary culture. Holding singular visual energy, and executed the year Self completed her MFA at Yale University, Lilith, 2015, is a striking work from the artist's young corpus, touching on penetrating, socially-driven themes. Layering statement with craft, Self’s practice has been widely celebrated worldwide, most recently alongside the work of Georgia O’Keeffe at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, and in her first solo museum exhibition in the United States at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle.

    Viewing all mediums as an extension of her painterly practice, Self presents dynamic characters that span a variety of artistic and craft traditions. In Lilith, the titular figure – who in Jewish folklore was Adam's first wife before Eve – confidently strides across the canvas, pushing aside painted leaves with a collaged hand, as though profoundly unaware and untroubled by the viewer’s gaze. Confronting gendered renderings of history, Self’s voluptuous and exaggerated depiction of the female form belongs to a body of work that echoes her own cultural outlook towards race, gender and sexuality. Her panoply of subjects manipulate, illuminate and destroy imposed collective ideals. ‘The fantasies and attitudes surrounding the black female body are both accepted and rejected within my practice, and through this disorientation, new possibilities arise. I am attempting to provide alternative, and perhaps fictional, explanations for the voyeuristic tendencies towards the gendered and racialized body; a body which is both exalted and abject’ (Tschabalala Self, quoted in ‘About’, https://tschabalalaself.com/).

    Working from a simple line drawing of how she wants the body to look, Self subsequently delineates her character’s faces, features, bust and ornamentation through stitching. Instilling each painting with distinctive personality, the artist collages materials, paintings, paper and old clothing from her family home into her work. Seeking to fill the void for a narrative that she hasn’t yet found, the artist refers to how her depicted subjects may feel rather than look. Through her pioneering artistic practice, she masterfully and creatively depoliticises – and therefore arguably politicises – the body, harnessing the concept of voyeurism to reflect the reality of the black female experience.

  • Artist Biography

    Tschabalala Self

    American • 1990

    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.”

    View More Works



oil, acrylic, flashe, fabric and dry leaf on canvas/linen
183.1 x 172.2 cm (72 1/8 x 67 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2015.

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £125,000

Contact Specialist
Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4060 rwiden@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 7 March 2019