How Liza Lou and Her Collective of Zulu Bead-Workers Have Perfected the Art of Painting with Glass

To many, the name Liza Lou conjures images of the artist’s beaded work Kitchen from 1996, an elaborately embellished domestic space exploding with kitschy color. With that piece in mind, her latest work, currently on view at London’s White Cube in the exhibition “Solid / Divide,” might seem like a stark departure. The pieces on display recall minimalist, color field canvases, but these new, beaded “paintings” reward the eye with an equal amount of visual variety as her earlier work—if one takes the time to look closely.

Since founding a collective with Zulu bead-workers in South Africa a decade ago, the artist has created these compositions in collaboration with a community of female artisans. Together they work on the incredibly time-consuming process of beading canvases, creating surfaces  with subtle variations in color that recall pixelated moire patterns or snakeskin. 

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