Tschabalala Self - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | Phillips
  • Video

    Tschabalala Self, 'Princess', Lot 3

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 13 February

  • Provenance

    Pilar Corrias, London
    Stems Gallery, Brussels
    Private Collection, Belgium

  • Exhibited

    Brussels, Stems Gallery, Slip, 9 November - 23 December 2017
    Sète, Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain Occitanie, Mademoiselle, 21 July 2018 – 6 January 2019, pp. 17, 41 and 50 (illustrated, pp. 22 and 27)
    Stockholm, Loyal Gallery, A Seed’s A Star, 15 June – 17 August 2019
    London, Victoria Miro, Rock My Soul, 2 October – 2 November 2019

  • Literature

    Laird Borrelli-Persson, ‘10 Great Women Artists Who Inspired the Fall 2018 Collections’, Vogue, 21 March 2018, online (illustrated)
    Alex Estorick, ‘“Mademoiselle”: Spotlighting The Embedded Sexualization Of Women’s Identities’, Frieze, 12 September 2018, online

  • Catalogue Essay

    Looking at the viewer fixedly in a squatting pose, the flamboyant woman in Tschabalala Self’s Princess, 2017, is a token of the artist’s imaginative mind. Designed from imagination, and endowed with grandiose features including a blue face, an orange neck, cheetah-patterned collarbones and mulberry stilettos, the protagonist exudes a strange but compelling force, dominating the wide expanse of the canvas with unparalleled charisma. She is at once divine and levelled, distant and familiar, embodying the claim that Self’s ‘figures are not exactly portraits and not precisely characters. Self calls them avatars for her own personality’ (Laura Cumming, ‘Lubaina Himid: Invisible Strategies; Tschabalala Self review – history and mystery’, The Guardian, 22 January 2017, online). Experiencing a spectacular ascension in recent years, Self’s body of paintings has been the subject of numerous solo shows including the recent Bodega Run at The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Tschabalala Self at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, coinciding in 2019. Notably, Princess was included in the group exhibition Mademoiselle which took place at the Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain Occitanie in 2018-19, bringing together a generation of artists reflecting on the diversity of women's experiences in the modern world.

    Born in Harlem in 1990, Self primarily focuses on the subject of the black woman in her figurative output, addressing the way black bodies defy the narrow spaces in which they are often forced to exist. Her figures are realised in a mixture of painting, discarded canvas scraps and fabrics that, when affixed to a stretched canvas, create ripples and undulations that mimic movement. ‘My mom would sew at home [...] I started sewing after my mom passed’, the artist elucidated. ‘She would trace patterns on the floor, and I frequently work on the floor as well. I use a lot of the fabric that she collected. She would also reuse things. If my sisters outgrew a pair of pants, she would turn them into skirts. I do that in my practice. Everything is a part of the space that it was created in’ (Tschabalala Self, quoted in ‘An Individual Is Made of Many Parts: Tschabalala Self Interviewed by Sasha Bonét’, BOMB Magazine, 20 November 2018, online).

    Formally weaving different materials, memories and stylistic inspirations within her compositions, Self has cited Romare Bearden’s 'huge influence' in her work, notably with regards to ‘collage, his interest in black quotidian life’ (Tschabalala Self, quoted in ‘An Individual Is Made of Many Parts: Tschabalala Self Interviewed by Sasha Bonét’, BOMB Magazine, 20 November 2018, online). Yet in the conflation of materials and genres, Self’s work simultaneously calls to mind the eclectic oeuvre of the artist and writer Faith Ringgold. Growing up surrounded by the Harlem Renaissance, Ringgold conjured complex portraits and scenes of what she knew in diverse materials and dimensions, spanning oil paint, quilt and sculpture. Similarly, Self’s Princess undergoes a prodigious amalgamation of materiality, producing an instantly absorbing image that colours the viewer’s surroundings with values of its own.

    With her real human hair, her blue breasts and her supernatural-looking eyes, the Princess within the present work – literally displaying stitched Disney princesses on her chest – summons visions of surreal feminine glory. Her hypersexualised body is assertive rather than enshrouded in false humility; it exemplifies Sasha Bonét’s claim that Self’s characters ‘are not dainty or faint beings. They are heavy and deliberate and delicate at once’ (Sasha Bonét, ‘Tschabalala Self maps the intricacy of the black aesthetic’, Document Journal, 30 May 2019, online). Presenting the viewer with a seminal female figure – unnamed and universal, yet titularly regal – Self subsequently endows her with a distinct contemporary edge. In this perspective, Princess dithers between genres, taking from figuration, abstraction, self-portraiture, and pure fantasy.

  • 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



signed and dated 'Tschabalala Self Tschabalala Self 2017' on the overlap
fabric, acrylic, flashe, oil and human hair on canvas
213 x 183 cm (83 7/8 x 72 in.)
Executed in 2017.

£150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for £435,000

Contact Specialist

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 13 February 2020