Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce the representation of Malawian artist Billie Zangewa, who currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. For Frieze Art Fair’s Online Viewing Room, launching this week, Lehmann Maupin will present recent work by the artist. Zangewa will have her first solo presentation with Lehmann Maupin in New York this September and her first solo museum exhibition at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco in 2021.
Zangewa was born in 1973 in Blantyre, Malawi. She spent much of her childhood in Botswana. Later, she moved to South Africa and received her BFA from Rhodes University, Grahamstown in 1995. Zangewa is best-known for her intricate collages composed of hand-stitched fragments of silk. These figurative compositions explore contemporary intersectional identity in an attempt to challenge the historical stereotype, objectification, and exploitation of the black female form. Beginning her career in the fashion and advertising industries, Zangewa utilizes her expertise in textiles to create densely layered compositions of domestic interiors, urban landscapes, and portraits that reflect personal and universal experiences. Often referencing scenes or experiences from everyday life, Zangewa has stated that she is interested in depicting the labor done by women that keeps society running smoothly, but which is often overlooked, undervalued, or ignored. Zangewa’s work illustrates gendered labor in a socio-political context, where the domestic sphere becomes a pretext for a deeper understanding of the construction of identity, questions around gender stereotypes, and racial prejudice.
“We have had our eye on Billie for some time,” explains Rachel Lehmann. “She is extremely innovative, making figurative work that interrogates identity and culture. By using found material and the resources she has on hand, Billie is engaging in larger social and cultural concerns about labor, commerce, and materiality, much like Nari Ward. Like others in our program who have been inspired by the physical landscape and material culture of South Africa, Robin Rhode, Nicholas Hlobo, and Liza Lou, Zangewa’s inspiration shines through in the intricate embroidery and stitching of each work. By depicting her immediate environment, often domestic scenes, Billie references her own experiences, which are universally relatable. Right now, more than ever, this work embodies an urgent resonance and quiet poetry that we can all take comfort in.”
In my solitude, 2018. Hand-embroidered silk collage, 59.06 x 43.7 inches (150 x 111 cm)