Galerie Templon is holding its first exhibition of work by Malawian artist Billie Zangewa. The South Africa-based artist has chosen to mark this special occasion with a message of hope and unity.
Billie Zangewa's background is as an engaged artist. A golden-fingered embroiderer, she has gradually garnered recognition on the African and international art scene. Her autobiographical works skilfully combine personal experience with universal subjects, from the hustle and bustle of urban megalopolises to ordinary activities in the life of a woman and mother in today's world. Daily life thus serves as a pretext to engage in a political reflection on identity which insightfully challenges gender stereotypes and racial prejudices.
The artist is now taking her work in a new direction, moving away from purely domestic scenes to tackle topics with more of a universal and timeless dimension. Scraps of silk and various colourful, shiny textiles mingle delicately in the exhibition's ten or so figurative compositions, painting narrative portraits that extol love in all its many facets. As the artist explains, 'The exhibition is entitled Soldier of Love because I believe that especially at this time in history that we live in, universal and personal love is something that we have to fight for. I consider myself a soldier of love.'
Born in 1973 in Malawi, Billie Zangewa lives and works London and Johannesburg. She has been exhibiting her art in Botswana and South Africa since 1997 and internationally, to great acclaim, for around fifteen years. Her work has been showcased by a number of solo exhibitions, including in 2018 at Art Basel Miami Beach and in 2017 at Frieze Frame in London and Art Paris. She has taken part in an array of group exhibitions in Africa, Europe and the USA, such as I am... Contemporary Women Artists of Africa, National Museum of African Art-Smithsonian Institute, Washington (2019), Making Africa: A Continent Of Contemporary Design, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin (2018), Stedelijk BASE, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2017), Women's Work, Crafting Stories, Subverting Narratives, IZIKO South Africa National Museum, Cape Town and A Constellation, Studio Museum Harlem, New York (2016), and Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Work of Six African Women Artists, WIELS, Brussels (2015). Billie Zangewa's work features in the collections at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Tate in London. As of late January 2020, her work will be part of a group exhibition at the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo. From 12 June to 1 November 2020, the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris is organising the exhibition The Power of My Hands, which will bring together a selection of works by a dozen female artists from several African countries and from the diaspora, including work by Billie Zangewa.
Press release courtesy Templon.
Billie Zangewa discusses sewing from an early age, turning the mundane into the relatable by expanding personal histories outwards through textiles, the importance of self-care, and why she considers herself a soldier of love, an overriding theme in the artist's first solo exhibition at Templon in Paris.