Angela Davis #2

  • 2015
  • Iris Kensmil
  • oil on canvas
  • 110,3 x 80,2 x 2,8 cm
  • Location VAM, B2, 01, 00
  • Acquired in 2016
  • Inventory number 3368
  • met steun van / with support of Mondriaan Fonds

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Iris Kensmil portrays important figures from the Black emancipation movement. ‘I consciously use a European way of painting light. It gives a certain presence to the people I portray, with which I wish to respectfully emphasize their importance.’ Presented here is Angela Davis, activist, politician, academic, and author, for whom the US prison system has been a key point of protest. Since her first actions and her imprisonment in the 1970s, she remains an extremely relevant activist.

-2017 exhibition text The Way Beyond Art

Queer perspective

For anyone queer and coloured, Angela Davis may be an icon even though she never fought directly for LGBTQIA+ rights. As a Black lesbian activist woman, Davis always made sure her voice was heard. What is very striking about Kensmil’s depiction is the imposing hair, which takes up more than the half of the artwork. Nowadays, people with afro hair are still being stigmatized. All of Kensmil’s work reflects Davis, as it is inspiring, powerful and empowering for people of colour. This Dutch artist with Surinamese roots may identify with the model she paints. Perhaps you are familiar with Audre Lorde, Hermina Huiswoud or Octavia Butler. If not, then welcome to Kensmil’s pantheon comprising talented people of colour who have been left in the margin of the art historical canon.

%>Tags: gaze, ageism, embodiment, divides, agency

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