Billie Zangewa (b.1973), Cold Shower, 2019, embroidered silk, 107 x 101 cm.
© Courtesy of Templon, Paris-Brussels
For the first time, the Templon gallery is presenting embroideries on silk by Billie Zangewa, a Malawi artist who lives in South Africa. Ten intimate and figurative works in shimmering colours evoke her experience as a decidedly contemporary woman, from motherhood to everyday life. Handling the textile and this expert technique like a painter with a brush, Zangewa embroiders figures or stages herself, as in At the End of the Day, Cold Shower and Sunday Morning Pursuits - while leaving the spectator the possibility of imagining what is not shown. Using an ancient traditional craft, she sews her pieces while creating blank spaces. In The Swimming Lesson, her son's nervousness before making a dive is intensified by this void, which imparts an even stronger and more mysterious emotional dimension to the work. The lacunae, which are deliberately cut out of the material, symbolise the characters' imperfections and traumas and also contributing to the construction of their own story. Unframed, the works in "Soldier of Love" emanate feelings of love and empathy, and reflect the small joys of daily life: values that are complementary and underlying, subtly evoking the feminist engagement of the artist and the questions of identity of our society. A body of work developed over the long term that decompartmentalizes genders, in a highly intimate exhibition.