Tschabalala Self - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Tschabalala Self, 'Florida', Lot 5

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 2 October 2019

  • 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
    New York, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts at VOLTA, Tschabalala Self, 2 - 6 March 2016

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘My mom would sew at home, making curtains and clothes... 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

    A vibrant patchwork of varied textures and colours, Florida, 2015, embodies Tschabalala Self’s distinct artistic practice, whereby painterly compositions become haptic and three-dimensional, akin to the tactile surfaces of craftwork. Created in 2015, the work coincides with Self’s graduation from her MFA in painting and printmaking at the Yale School of Art, where she learned to mix media and genres to conjure intricate, multifaceted scenes on canvas. With its multifarious textures and mix of pastel and elementary colours, Florida typifies the artist’s tendency to use assemblage as a method to explore perspectives on femininity and identity politics at large. ‘A stereotype is a flat character with two dimensions’, she writes. ‘And I can confront those stereotypical images by making round, multidimensional characters with complicated desires, inner dialogues, and psychology’ (Tschabalala Self, quoted in Stephanie Eckhardt, ‘Meet Tschabalala Self, the 26-Year-Old Artist Empowering the Lives of Black Women’, W Magazine, 16 January 2017, online).

    Embodying Self’s pantheon of self-confident and self-aware female protagonists, Florida challenges the tradition of female portraiture in the art historical canon, continuously defined by a tendency to minimise, utilise or fetishise the female body, primarily through the exploitation of a woman’s physical or sensual attributes. About to straddle an alligator's back amidst a flurry of wild foliage, the character taking centre stage has claimed her body as hers, like an Amazon taking over nature. With distinct prints of her face collaged across her body, Florida’s protagonist shares pictorial affinities with David Hammons’ celebrated series of body prints, which similarly records the presence of black human subjects across the surfaces of his works. As stated by Monica Uszerowicz, ‘The bodies of black and brown women are simultaneously subject to idolatry and subjugation’ in Self’s work. The artist ‘acknowledges the fantastical nature of their depictions, while giving them a world of their own’ (Monica Uszerowicz, ‘Immersed in the Playful, Communal World of a Bodega’, Hyperallergic, 3 January 2018, online).

  • 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.”

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oil, acrylic, fabric, dry leaf and canvas collage on canvas
214.4 x 183.6 cm (84 3/8 x 72 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2015.

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £275,000

Contact Specialist

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


Rosanna Widén
Director, Senior Specialist
+44 20 7318 4060

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 October 2019