Installation view, Tschabalala Self: By My Self. Photo by Mitro Hood.

Tschabalala Self: By My Self


Over the past five years, Tschabalala Self has emerged as one of the most significant artists reinventing figurative painting. In By My Self, the BMA presents 13 paintings, from 2016 to the present, alongside two related sculptures that reveal the depth, intricacy, and singularity of Self’s formal strategy and techniques for investigating the iconographic significance of the Black female form in contemporary culture. Among the featured works are a new suite of three paintings of a female couple created in response to Henri Matisse’s sculpture Two Women (1907–08; originally titled Two Negresses) in the BMA’s collection.

Self uses a variety of reproductive techniques, including stencils, tracings, prints, casts, and mechanically stitched lines of thread, to produce her singular and complex works. The exhibition explores how the compositional process generates meaning in Self’s work, reflecting her theory of selfhood as a consciousness that is at once produced by external images and by an ongoing reworking and evolving of forms into a new whole. Self was born in Harlem, New York, in 1990 and is based in New Haven, Connecticut.

Curated by Cecilia Wichmann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by the Hardiman Family Endowment Fund and The Pulimood Charitable Trust.

2020 Vision is generously sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women and PNC Foundation.

The 2020 Vision installation of the Contemporary Wing is generously sponsored by BGE, Constellation and Exelon.