These Emerging Black Artists Are the Future of Figurative Painting

Isis Davis-Marks, Artsy, February 11, 2020

Jerrell Gibbs’s paintings highlight important memories, often depicting people with whom he has significant relationships. “I choose to highlight the people who are important to me; ordinary, hardworking, loving people,” Gibbs said. “They’re real moments. I believe it’s important in an age of social media, where everyone posts about their ‘best,’ that all aspects of life should be significant, not just the most extravagant.”

 
Even when the figures in Gibbs’s paintings appear to be posing, they still seem carefree. They aren’t overly concerned with their bodies; their features aren’t airbrushed with Photoshop’s spot-healing tool. They position themselves in ways that aren’t rigid or controlled. In the painting It’s You (2020), a woman glances downwards in her pink sunglasses, holding a glass of red wine in one hand as she playfully shows off her black-and-yellow spotted dress, one leg peeking out from a thigh-high slit. She appears to be aware that someone is watching her or taking her picture; her pose is unguarded and proud.
Gibbs’s paintings are also distinctive in their use of loose, playful lines. “What draws me to an illustrative style are my childhood memories of play and drawing,” Gibbs said. “Those were my most free moments, and when I paint, I like to get back to that mental space of play and leisure.”

 

 

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