Published by skira. Text by Amanda Renshaw. Interview with Katy Hessel.
Only three years after her graduation from the Royal Drawing School in London, British painter Somaya Critchlow (born 1993) has already soared to worldwide acclaim for her figurative portraits of women that explore nuances of race, sexuality and culture. After learning art history through a white, Western lens and being encouraged to only paint white figures, Critchlow turned to self-portraiture as a way of reclaiming the craft. She then began to paint other women of color, ranging in scale from intimate miniatures to life-sized illustrations, each representing their self-possessed subjects with evocative brushstrokes in rich shades of bronze and puce. They subvert conventional representations of Black women throughout art history even as Critchlow draws upon traditional techniques of thinned oils and watercolors. Critchlow’s visual lexicon necessarily draws from the distinctions of race and class that form our contemporary visual landscape. This is the first monograph on her work.