Every year the FNB JoburgArt Fair, one of Africa’s biggest contemporary art events, presents a special showcase of the work of a young African contemporary artist of note. This year’s Featured Artist is Malawian-born and Joburg-based artist Billie Zangewa. One of the continent’s most exciting young stars, her upcoming exhibition at the fair (from Sep 7-9) is not to be missed.
Working with raw silk off cuts, Zangewa creates intricate hand-stitched collages in a flat, colourful style that depict everyday scenes typically taken from her own life. Her extraordinarily laborious technique – whereby layer upon layer of silk are stitched over each other until eventually a richly detailed image emerges – is often described as ‘silk painting’ .
Through her richly nuanced depictions of the everyday moments of ordinary domestic life – reading, cleaning the kitchen, making dinner, lying in bed, feeding the kids, sunbathing or getting ready for work – Zangewa explores the many different roles and identities which women hold in society. She also challenges the historical stereotyping of black female bodies and looks squarely at the complex socio-politics of gender, femininity and skin tone.
In recent years Zangewa’s shimmering silk collages have found international acclaim. Displayed at exhibitions in London, New York and Paris, Zangewa’s artworks can also now be found in the collections of prestigious institutions such as the Tate Modern and Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. All of which makes this rare chance to see an exhibition of her works here in Joburg all the more unmissable.
In addition to her special exhibition at the FNB JoburgArtFair (Sep 7-9) at Sandton Convention Centre, Billie Zangewa will also be discussing her works as part of the fair’s free art talks programme on Sat Sep 8 at 15:15 at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square.