Subversive and Grandiose, Kajahl’s Vivid Portraits Supplant Historical Narratives



#oil painting

November 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Silent Incantation II” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 38 x 33 inches. All photographs © Kajahl, shared with permission

By means of his meticulously rendered portraits, Santa Cruz-born artist Kajahl subverts the custom of Blackamoor—a extremely stylized European aesthetic that visualized folks of colour, notably African males, in exoticized varieties and subservient roles—by as an alternative depicting Black topics in valorized positions. A part of a sequence titled Royal Specter, the vivid work heart alchemists, students, astronomers, and varied mental figures inside grandiose and luxurious settings.

Whereas the artist’s works evoke the racist sculpture and ornamental items of Blackamoor, they take away the historic context and alter the unique narrative by anachronistic particulars. Every oil portray is layered with imagined parts, from the inaccuracies of the supply materials to Kajahl’s portrayals of fictional characters. “My fantasy is gazing again at their fantasy. I’m their fantasy and they’re mine… I’m the specter of their creativeness,” he says.

Kajahl’s work at the moment is on view at Chicago’s Monique Meloche Gallery by December 19. You’ll be able to sustain together with his traditionally subversive tasks on Instagram.


“Alchemist” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 36 x 48 inches

Left: “Huntress Eclipse” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 60 x 48 inches. Proper: “Tigress Guardian In Palmtree Oasis” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 60 x 48 inches

“Star Gazer In Solitude” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 72 x 54 inches

“Huntress In Oasis (Astride A Crocodile)” (2020), oil on canvas, 66 x 84 inches

Left: “Second of Contemplation (Scholar)” ( 2020), oil on canvas over panel, 48 x 36 inches. Proper: “Oracle (Holding Mirror)” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 48 x 36 inches

“Silent Incantation I” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 38 x 33 inches

“Oracle Snake In Globe” (2020), oil on linen over panel, 48 x 36 inches

#oil painting


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