"the heart of the matter...": Amy Sherald Is One of America's Most Important Painters
"I paint because I am looking for versions of myself in art history and in the world." That Amy Sherald's new blockbuster solo exhibition, the heart of the matter..., on view now through Ocotber 26 at Hauser & Wirth in NYC, kicks off with this quote from the artist, feels significant. Sherald has become one of the leading portrait artists in contemporary art, not only bolstered by her portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, but her abitliy to recontextualize race in American portraiture.
As the gallery notes: "Informed by the artist’s reading of key texts that explore tensions between interior and public realms, ‘the heart of the matter…’ draws its title from the first chapter of bell hooks’ seminal book ‘Salvation,’ and builds on themes of silence and stillness explored in Kevin Quashie’s ‘Sovereignty of Quiet’ and U.S. Poet Laureate Elizabeth Alexander’s ‘Black Interior.’ In her new paintings, Sherald considers how these relate to the conceptualization of blackness as it is represented publicly, questioning representation of black identity, which often negates the complex reality of an interior life. She envisions black American identity beyond the conceits to which it has largely been restricted, attempting to restore a broader, fuller picture of humanity."
the heart of the matter... is on view through October 26, 2019. All images © Amy Sherald