Liza Lou / Canvas / 2014
Goodman Gallery is pleased to present Canvas, the first exhibition in South Africa by American artist, Liza Lou.
In 2005, Lou first travelled to South Africa to initiate an art project with Zulu beadworkers. Starting with 12 women from the surrounding townships of KwaZulu Natal, Lou’s project has continued to flourish and has now grown to a collective of over 25 artisans. Lou’s commitment to this community of Zulu women and to the exploration of process and test of the limits of her chosen material has led to a minimal, contemplative practice in which the material has become the subject.
For the exhibition at Goodman Gallery, Lou explores the surface normally accepted as the ground for art – the canvas – making it into the subject of the work, but instead of cloth, the “canvas” here is woven out of unified, off-white glass beads. Though each woven painting in the exhibition is for the most part comprised of an identical off-white bead, each carries with it quiet evidence of the individual weavers’ lives, inextricably woven into each stitch. Ruptures, pock marks and streaks stain the surfaces – physical reminders of their slow making amidst the daily struggle of rural family life. The resulting works offer quiet and sublime meditations on looking and on the nature of beauty and perfection.
Liza Lou’s South Africa project – a private initiative – offers ongoing beadwork commissions to facilitate sustainable income to a highly skilled yet neglected sector of Zulu women. Lou has established wellness programmes, created scholarships, and fostered entrepreneurial and beadwork skills to help create a lifeline for Zulu artisans upon which to build and improve their lives.
Liza Lou has participated in numerous solo gallery and museum exhibitions internationally including Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, Fondació Joan Miró, Espai 13, Barcelona; White Cube, London and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris. Lou has participated in numerous group museum exhibitions including the Serpentine Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Palais de Tokyo, Paris and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei and the Biennale de Lyon d’art Contemporain, Lyon, France. Lou is the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and a 2013 Anonymous Was a Woman Award.