Tschabalala Self regards herself primarily as a painter, although her works can also be seen as collages. In addition to painting with various pigments Self incorporates textiles, threads and printmaking in her works. She uses recycled materials and often draws details with a sewing machine. Her life-size sculptures are like three-dimensional paintings that form narrative scenes together with the works the on walls. 

Self explores themes related to race and gender in her work. Although the artist draws on her personal experiences as a Black American woman, the paintings feature imagined figures. Self depicts bodies that are both exalted and objectified in Western imagery and art history. By deconstructing and reimagining this imagery, she creates a new kind of narrative surrounding the Black body.  

Self was born and raised in Harlem, New York. The title of the exhibition, Around the Way, is a Black American expression describing an individual who is from and of the neighbourhood and possesses a specific quality of being that can only be found amongst that community. Together the works present a portrait of such individuals. Claiming space in their streets, homes and most intimate spaces, they determine how they are seen and understood.  

Images: Installation views, Tschabalala Self, Around the Way, EMMA – Espoo Musem of Modern Art, Tapiola, Espoo, 2024. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / Vienna, and Pilar Corrias, London. Photo: Paula Virta.