London Celebrates Artist Faith Ringgold’s Black Power
June 5, 2019 - WWD, Natalie Theodosi
NEW ERA: American artist and activist Faith Ringgold is making her presence felt in the U.K.
Today, she opened the doors to her first European institutional exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in Hyde Park, while over in Mayfair, Matchesfashion.com transformed one of the rooms in its 5 Carlos Place townhouse into “Faith Ringgold’s Reading Room” for customers to read the artist’s children’s book and other titles contextualizing her work, listen to some of her favorite music — and shop cashmere blankets inspired by her famous quilts.
“Faith Ringgold is a groundbreaking artist who challenged the establishment to rethink what art is and has championed the importance of free speech. We [wanted] to support her first European exhibition and amplify her fascinating voice through a program of events at our London townhouse and our broadcasting hub online, to inspire our global audience,” said Jess Christie, chief business officer at Matches.
The retailer has previously hosted a talk with Ringgold and the Serpentine’s artistic director Hans-Ulrich Obrist during Frieze New York and has been spearheading a bigger push to incorporate art and lifestyle within its fashion offer.
For the Serpentine’s Obrist and chief executive officer Yana Peel, spotlighting Ringgold for the gallery’s much-anticipated summer exhibition was a no-brainer given the relevance of her voice and the common ground between the artist’s democratic spirit and the institution’s “free art for all” ethos.
“During the times we are in, the future can’t be predicted but it can certainly be invented, so as we look to our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2020, artists like Faith will define the success of this first half century,” said Peel.
Ringgold, whose work ranges from oil and acrylic paintings to quilts and political posters, reminisced about some of her most famous pieces displayed across the Serpentine and dating as far back as the Sixties.
“I was trying my best to paint my story being a black woman in America. It was fascinating to me and every decade it grew and changed and absolutely never went away. As an artist you have an opportunity to express yourself and project freedom, so I’m pleased to be here and show this work because it’s been a long, hard journey,” said Ringgold, while pointing to a piece from 1967, titled “American People #19: U.S. Postage Stamp Commemorating Advent of Black Power” which galvanized people to go out on the streets and shout about black power.
Photo Credit: Guy Bell, Shutterstock
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