The Hauser and Wirth, have released an online exhibition by the artist Amy Sherald; Womanist is to Feminist as Purple is to Lavender.
Through her monumental portraits of African American subjects, Amy Sherald explores alternate narratives of blackness through the exclusion of color from the notion of race. The Baltimore-based artist is best known for her stylized, figurative paintings of vibrantly dressed individuals rendered in grayscale skin tones against flat, highly-saturated backgrounds that evoke a sense of timeless identity. “I’m painting the paintings that I want to see in museums,” she said. “And I’m hopefully presenting them in a way that’s universal enough that they become representative of something different than just a black body on a canvas.” Sherald was the first woman to win the Smithsonian’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition grand prize with her 2016 entry Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance). Former First Lady Michelle Obama tapped Sherald to paint her official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., which was unveiled in early 2018 alongside Kehinde Wiley’s likeness of President Barack Obama. (Artsy.net)
‘Womanist is to Feminist as Purple is to Lavender’ comprises of five small scale (11x7inch) portraits by Amy Sherald that she painted over the course of the pandemic. This series is a prelude to Amy Sherald’s first solo exhibition in New York, which will open at Hauser & Wirth in February 2021. and present new full-scale paintings. Using the medium of gouache at her kitchen table, a material that she hasn’t used sine childhood.
In these paintings, Sherald reveals expressions of Black life that have been historically absent in Black imagery. She paints simple acts of leisure that are not the luxuries of privilege or passive pursuits, but are essentially elements of wellness that remind us of the restorative power of joy.
“These are less portraits of women than of a state of centeredness, relaxation, and security.” (Sherald 2020)
Untitled. Gouache. 2020
The women that she depicts in her portraits are from an archive of images that Sherald has collected over the past decades. She scrolled through them to find some inspiration in the photographs that she hadn’t painted from previously.
I’m not sure that as a black woman you can be a feminist. They are the same, but different, as Walker writes. As purple is to lavender. A Womanist works to ensure the well-being of men, women, and all of humanity. It’s not singular and I like that. (Walker, 2020)
Untitled. Gouache. 2020
Words written by Sophie Reynolds
Photo’s sourced from Hauser and Wirth and National Portrait Gallery