Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce ingxube, the gallery’s first solo exhibition for Liza Lou, and the artist’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. The Los Angeles-based artist divides her practice between studios in California and in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where she established a studio with a team of 30 Zulu artisans in 2005. This close relationship has enabled Lou to further develop her signature medium of glass beads by collectively producing intricately beaded canvases, sculptures, and large-scale installations. For this exhibition, Lou will present new work from her ingxube series, with six colorful minimalist paintings comprised entirely of woven beads.
Lou’s work can be interpreted as a meditation on labor and process that welcomes variance and accident to illuminate repetition. For more than two decades, she has worked with glass beads as her primary medium. From working alone on large-scale sculptures to developing unique community strategies, she investigates the beauty of labor, challenges the accepted definitions of art and craft, and addresses the socio-political issues of gender, class, race, and community. For her best-known installation, Kitchen (1991-96), now in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, she worked alone over five years to create a life-sized replica of an American kitchen, complete with brand-name household products, in which every surface was meticulously overlaid with small glass beads. The monumental piece established Lou as a sculptor and solidified her commitment to highlighting the often-invisible labor of women.
The ingxube series exemplifies Lou’s sustained interest in pushing the structural and aesthetic possibilities of her material while extending the creative conversation with her South African studio community. The Zulu word “ingxube” translates loosely to “random” or “mixture,” which alludes to the method of production of these works. Using selections of different colored beads that she blends into custom color groupings, much like mixing paint pigments, Lou assigns a variety of strips to be woven by the artisans in prescribed dimensions, requiring only that beads be chosen randomly. Selecting from the resulting hundreds of strips, Lou then builds and weaves each into a ‘canvas.’ Minimalist and abstract, they are deeply influenced by landscape and also reference the color field works of artists aligned with the New York School during the 1960s. Similar to these artists, Lou’s subtle striations of color achieve a sense of depth and light moving across the pixilated surface of each canvas.
Lehmann Maupin (press release)