blank projects, based in Cape Town, presents a solo exhibition by Zoë Paul titled Shadows over the bright and darkened lands of the earth, which was originally commissioned by MoMA for the Modern Window series from September 2020 to July 2021.
The artist’s first show with the gallery, Shadows over the bright and darkened lands of the earth is a series of three large-scale bead curtains made from handmade stoneware, terra cotta, and porcelain depicting the forms of three naked figures suspended in motion. About the works, curator Jocelyn Miller writes: ‘Zoë Paul’s beaded curtain installations incorporate styles of picture-making from across history—ancient cave paintings, Byzantine iconography, classical Greek vases, as well as the digital pixels that compose virtual reality. Her work is partially inspired by the curtains hung in doorways in the Mediterranean, which allow easy flow between public and private spaces. Ambient light and the motion of passersby make the depicted figures appear to come to life, with a kind of flickering that resembles early film animation. The beads serve a function similar to that of computer pixels, coalescing to produce a triptych of figures—in the artist’s words, a “celebratory, spiritual evocation of bodily representation, focusing on musculature, strength, dynamism, and the spiritually erotic.”’
Born in London to South African parents and raised between Greece and England, Zoë Paul’s tri-cultural upbringing informs her investigation of the boundaries between the private and public as well as the relationship between artist and community. A sculptor and painter working in a variety of mediums including weaving, beaded curtains, ceramics, fountains and murals, Paul revisits tradition via material and process, not to efface history but simply to reexamine it. She challenges prevailing ideas about ‘craft’ or femininity by peeling away the layers that time and convention have built. The ideas of labor and craftsmanship thus hold double meaning, pointing towards the process but also carrying a direct connection to matter and the maker.