Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present Be Gentle With Me, a presentation of new paintings by Michaela Yearwood-Dan at the gallery’s 509 West 24th Street location. Be Gentle With Me is the artist’s first solo presentation with the gallery and is on view from September 9 to October 23, 2021.
Yearwood-Dan’s new paintings emerge from her deeply personal reflections on the past two years, notably including the Black Lives Matter movement, the global pandemic, and queer liberation. In Be Gentle With Me, she explores the possibilities of creating space and spaces—physical, pastoral, metaphorical and even chimeric vis-a-vis her social and political positions as a queer Black feminist woman. Across a series of works, the artist presents lush, abstract, non-realistic habitats teeming with a panoply of botanical motifs and forms. She also inscribes writing onto the canvas, frequently comprised of her own poetry and epigrams as well as lyrical and comedic references and questions about her own artmaking, contemporary culture, and demotic language that all appear with varying degrees of focus and legibility. Her words beckon the viewer into a vivid, invitational world of paradox, play, and contemplation formed from a palette of Battenberg pinks and yellow and rondos of dripping blues, blanket teals, wet blacks, and vivid greens—all operating according to an indeterminable yet otherworldly logic.
In previous ‘episodes’ of her work, Yearwood-Dan has explored the diaristic introversions of personal vulnerability, drawing heavily on the vicissitudes of her own romantic life to present disquisitions on nostalgia and disillusionment. In her latest body of work, the artist paints instead from a point of communal vulnerability to offer an idealized description and place for her and people like her. In effect, these paintings evoke the idealized locus amoenus and present a sort of sanctuary from the staccato demands of a fraught civilization and its social and economic disorder. With grace and inventive vitality, Yearwood-Dan explores the liminal significance and escapist provision of her soft, ethereal, dream-like spaces in an epoch of urgent crisis and oppositional change. Ultimately, Be Gentle With Me is a message for and of community.
Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s work reflects on subjectivity and individual identity as forms of self-determination. Whilst her work may be underpinned by an expansive and multivalent repertoire of cultural signifiers borrowing freely from Blackness, healing rituals, flora, texting, acrylic-nails, gold-hoops, carnival culture, they enable her to present and privilege the variance of her own individual experience. She defamiliarizes many of these reference points in her paintings resisting the clichés and strictures of representation.
Michaela Yearwood-Dan lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include In Situ, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, US (group - 2021); Ancient Deities, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (group - 2020); Clay TM, TJ Boulting, London, UK (group - 2020); The Green Fuse, Frestonian Gallery, London, UK (group -2020); No Time Like the Present, Public Gallery, London, UK, (group - 2020); Begin Again, Guts Gallery, London, UK, (group - 2020); After Euphoria, Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK (solo - 2019); One English Pound, Sarabande, The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, London, UK (solo - 2019).