Hannah Traore Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by Anya Paintsil for NADA New York. For this series, Paintsil weaves common threads from the traditions of her Ghanaian and Welsh heritage to compose textiles that intertwine the passed-down practices of hair braiding and rug hooking. Paintsil’s tapestries are an ambitious progression from her previous work in their complex compositions, textured backgrounds, and inventive use of antique rug-hooking tools for new and inventive techniques.Through hair braiding, a skill she learned while growing up in Wales in a community where she felt the only space to express her Ghanaian identity was from the intimacy of home, Paintsil savors each textile as an opportunity to communicate what it means to express care, while also exploring how caretaking is shaped by societal and familial expectations. Introducing multiple interacting figures and intersecting arms and legs into the frame, these works were inspired by configurations from Paintsil’s personal photographs from childhood and with friends, and from tales from the Mabinogion: a collection of medieval Welsh folklore and mythology in which women are punished for defying their marital and maternal roles. As an artist who takes pleasure in making and has respect for crafting, Paintsil takes her time sewing, often working from her home studio and developing works with an organic timeframe. Applying braiding methods to textiles, her greatest tool is encouraging her muscle memory to translate techniques—making work through an instinctive hybrid language. This will be Paintsil’s second presentation with Hannah Traore Gallery; her first solo exhibition, Proof of Their Victories, was mounted in 2022 at the gallery’s Lower East Side location.
Anya Paintsil works at the intersection of textile and sculpture, engaging in practices like rug-hooking, embroidery and tapestry-making; some of which she learned from family members. She frequently incorporates weaves, braids and other hair pieces as materials in her work. Paintsil explores topics such as the female gaze, personal relationships and collective prejudices; topics that have been informed by her experiences growing up in North Wales in a mixed-race family. Paintsil studied at the Manchester School of Art, was awarded the Wakelin prize in 2021 and had solo exhibitions at the Glynn Vivian Museum, Swansea (2021) and We are all made of you, Ed Cross, London (2022). Her work is in the collections of The Whitworth (Manchester, UK), Glynn Vivian (Swansea, UK), Tullie House (Carlilse,UK), The Women’s Art Collection (Cambridge University, UK), The Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, NL) and Amoako Boafo (Accra, GH).