The unstretched “canvases” of Anya Paintsil (b. 1993, Wrexham, North Wales, UK) are cut from Hessian, or burlap, through which ends of fabric yarn are patiently and painstakingly punched to create wooly and primarily cream-colored soft surfaces using traditional, humble techniques. Brushed, hooked, boxed, twisted, and/or braided into these hanging “rugs” are remnants of the artist’s own natural and synthetic hair that extrude texturally in alternating staccato piles or ordered plaits. Two imperious doppelgangers in Should I blink now? (2021) are portrayed with locks recently worn by the artist, thus metaphysically entangled with her persona, or force. In the oversized, psychologically deconstructed double portrait of Paintsil and her sister, Dim Ond Ni (It’s Just Us) (2021), rotated and repeated toothy grimaces unfurl anxiously against a plush, blank backdrop of “overwhelming whiteness,” as she has also described the cultural experience of her native North Wales.
Anya Paintsil is a Welsh-Ghanaian artist who lives and works in Chester, UK. From rug hooking to embroidery, her textile assemblages evoke traditional tapestry and also constitute semi-sculptural interventions. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. She was awarded the Wakelin Prize in 2020.
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