The Collective Arena with Liliana Romero

FAWW Gallery presents
The Collective Area and Lilophilia 30 September – 4 October 2021

Curated by Elaine Tam

FAWW Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Lilophilia (b. 1994), an artist and screen- printer from Bogotá, Colombia. Drawing upon her ancestry and Black female identity, she is inspired by both the ancestral knowledge and contemporary politics of her native country. In so doing, she creates memorable, bold, graphic work that embodies the imagination and fervour of protest. Primarily a printmaker, Romero employs techniques that allow for the reproducibility of the image, and as such, her work frequently escapes the confines of gallery walls.


The triptych Could I be Black? (2017) is an important early work of Romero's that merges playfulness and humour with discomfort and discontent. The first of the three features a figure bent-double, which calls to mind the tongue-in-cheek act of 'mooning', which is ambivalent in its intent to either amuse or insult. The second is a self-portrait, is also delineated by thick, sinuous lines, ones which serve to complement the distinctive thick and curly quality of the artist's hair. The striking, limited palette of red and black in the triptych invokes the seductive charge of strength and fury, but also emphasises the erotic projections of an onlooker's gaze. This is most pronounced in the last of the three, wherein two hand marks are imprinted on the buttocks of a curvaceous black woman, to which she responds with a silent but piercing glare.


At FAWW Gallery, the newsprint work WE ARE ANGRY (2020) exists as an installation but references the posters' originary function and format suitable for fly-posting. A guerrilla marketing tactic wherein paper advertisements are pasted directly onto barriers, bus stops and building facades, Romero has tended to use the act of fly-posting subversively, to both attract and bombard viewers with her politically charged signs and slogans. In this particular design, the artist points to the struggle for women's safety, dignity and respect in Colombia, following the attack of a young girl in La Guajira by seven military men. A visibly bleeding figure with dark skin stands defiant and triumphant; as though swelling with rage, the border of the sheet is barely able to contain her.


The show culminates with two recent works that exemplify the artist's craft in combining political statement and graphic arts. In Mi sangre corre por el suelo (2020) which translates as 'my blood runs through the earth' the artist reflects on the relationship between spiritual and natural forces through a creation story central to the Awa tribe and the cult of Maria Lionza. VERDAD Y JUSTICIA (2020), on the other hand, refers to the sweep of Colombian protests which began 20 November 2019, and features two clasped hands representing comradery and cooperation. Small yet explosive and energetic, this piece punctuates the exhibition in its gesture towards the fight for justice, truth and fair leadership.


Attesting to her valiant and untiring character, this focussed presentation seeks to champion Romero the artist and the activist. By instantiating a realm of art intrinsically linked to the act of dissent and deployment, these ardent works exist to herald better worlds yet to come.