Billie Zangewa and Amoako Boafo’s epic shows in San Francisco

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San Francisco’s African Diaspora Museum reopens with Billie Zangewa and Amoako Boafo

Reopening for the first time since the onset of Covid-19, the African Diaspora Museum in San Francisco hosts epic exhibitions by Amoako Boafo and Billie Zangewa

The African Diaspora Museum (MoAD) in San Francisco reopens this month for the first time since the pandemic with a sufficiently powerful double title showcasing the works of two ascendant African artists – Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo and born in Malawi, Johannesburg-based artist Billie Zangewa. Both presented until early 2022, the exhibition duo marks the first individual museum exhibitions of each artist, both of whom are widely regarded among the most important contemporary African artists on the international stage.

Despite the simultaneous openings, each artist was duly honored. Boafo presents more than 20 works that he created between 2018 and 2021. The exhibition, entitled “Soul of Black Folks” from the pioneering essay book by sociologist and pan-Africanist WEB Du Bois, invites spectators to re-examine question their perceptions of the black figure. This dialogue is intentionally amplified by the context of Du Bois’s historical writing, which contributed to the invention of the term “double consciousness” to summarize how blacks often had to see themselves through the eyes of others. Boafo’s deeply personal works, which represent models from all walks of African life, are unwavering celebrations of darkness; each is an affirmation of dignity and importance.

Above: Amoako Boafo, Green-Clutch, 2021, courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim; Above: Seye, 2019, Courtesy of Hernandahan Family Collection, Jacinto J Hernandez and Chet Callahan. Courtesy of Roberts Projects

The text of ‘Du Bois’ is a rich source which provides a conceptual framework for the exhibition, ”writes curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, adding that Du Bois is actually buried in Osu, Ghana, Boafo’s hometown. “Viewers are invited to reflect on what it means for people in the African diaspora to take the power to cultivate its narrative, aesthetic and cultural expression. How does this radical act become a catalyst for an increased sense of black consciousness and liberation which is antithetical to Western canonical discourse?

Boafo’s captivating perspective is complemented by intricate collages by textile artist Billie Zanegawa, who exhibits works from the past 15 years as well as new pieces specially designed for “Thread for a Web Begun”. Zangewa’s intricate designs are reinforced by her deep understanding of textiles. From early works that feature embroidery on found pieces of fabric to more recent works that were composed using hand-sewn raw silk fragments, Zangewa portrays a range of personal and universal experiences using domestic interiors. , cityscapes and portraits to challenge historical stereotypes, objectification and exploitation of the black female form.

Artist Billie Zangewa with her exhibition “Thread for a Web Begun” at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco. Photography: Eric Carmichael

Zangewa’s depictions of the female experience are based on her own journeys through life in Johannesburg. Her depictions of domestic scenes are inspired by “everyday feminism,” as she calls it, the often neglected but valuable work that women do on a daily basis to keep society running smoothly.

“Through their method of fabrication and their narrative content, Zangewa’s silk paintings illustrate gendered work 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 prejudices. Zangewa’s labor intensive process curator Dexter Wimberly says. “She explores the different roles women play in society, including motherhood and the impact it has individually and collectively. The images of his work are deliberately decontextualized. However, when shown in a group, their fragmentary nature is further accentuated, suggesting that they are taken from a larger narrative.

Zangewa’s deep exploration of individual and collective identity and modern black femininity will soon gain traction around the world, with upcoming solo exhibitions at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in its Seoul and London locations in November 2021. . §

Above: Billie Zangewa, In the corner, Courtesy of the JP Morgan Chase Art Collection. Above: Afternoon Delight II, 2018. Courtesy of the Harry G. David and Lehmann Maupin Collection


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